MADISON, Alabama – The Rocket City Trash Pandas couldn’t get the clutch hit they needed late in the game in a 5-3 loss to the Montgomery Biscuits in front of a sellout crowd of 7,500 at Toyota Field on Saturday night.
The game began better than it ended for Rocket City as the home team got the scoring started in the first on David MacKinnon’s seventh home run of the season, a 436-foot solo shot to left to extend his hitting streak to eight games.
The Biscuits quickly answered in the top of the second as Cal Stevenson lifted a solo home run to left off Trash Pandas starter Cooper Criswell.
The game would remain tied until the fifth when Jim Haley hit a solo homer of his own to left center to put Montgomery in front for the first time. An inning later, Jonathan Aranda added to the Biscuits advantage with a double to center before Stevenson hit his second home run of the night, a two-run shot to left, for a 5-1 Biscuits lead.
The Trash Pandas got one back in the bottom of the sixth on a solo blast from Mitch Nay 369 feet to left to cut the deficit to three runs. The home run is Nay’s 14th of the season to tie him for the team lead with Izzy Wilson. Rocket City then threatened to close the gap as Ibandel Isabel reached on a dropped third strike and Ray-Patrick Didder doubled. But Michael Cruz grounded out to strand the runners on base.
Criswell got the first two outs in the seventh but departed with a runner on second. Adrian Almeida entered and induced a ground out from Miles Mastrobuoni to end the inning. Over 6.2 innings, Criswell (L, 6-4) gave up five earned runs on eight hits with one walk and six strikeouts. The loss ends his season-best four-game winning streak.
Orlando Martinez got the Trash Pandas a run closer in the seventh on a double to the gap in left-center, scoring Luis Aviles Jr. to make it a two-run game at 5-3.
Almeida worked around a walk and a single to pitch a scoreless top of the eighth. In the bottom half, the Trash Pandas loaded the bases with one out. However, Torii Hunter Jr. and Aviles Jr. struck out to end the inning and leave three on base.
Biscuits reliever Chris Muller (S, 4) returned to the mound for Montgomery in the ninth and retired the Trash Pandas in order to earn the save.
Didder led the way for the Trash Pandas by going 3-for-4 including a pair of doubles. The Trash Pandas only went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the loss that gave the Biscuits a series edge at three games to two.
The Trash Pandas (28-30) and Biscuits (28-29) wrap up their six-game series on Sunday night. First pitch at Toyota Field is set for 6:35 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM THE UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio. The game will also be televised locally on WAAY-31.6, This TV.