The Midland Rockhounds began the 2012 season with a 3-3 record over a six-game roadtrip. Midland took two out of three from the Arkansas Travelers but only won one of three against the Springfield Cardinals. Going into their home opener on Thursday, the Rockhounds were sitting tied for second in the Texas League South Division behind Frisco (4-2).
As of Thursday morning, the team had the second-lowest batting average in the Texas League at .216. However, the club's .350 collective on-base percentage was the highest in the division. The Rockhounds scored 27 runs during their six game roadtrip. The majority came in game three versus Arkansas (11). The defense has started slow as Midland committed nine errors.
Midland pitchers showed complete dominance at times during the roadtrip. The team finished with a 3.88 ERA in 51 innings. The staff allowed 39 hits and walked 23 batters. Only one run was given up during the first two games of the season.
The Rockhounds began a six-game homestand Thursday night with an 8-4 win against Arkansas. After facing the Travelers two more times, the team has a three-game series with Springfield.
The only move made by the organization impacting the Rockounds was when the A's traded outfielder Cedric Hunter to the St. Louis Cardinals for cash considerations. Hunter was acquired by the Oakland A's off of waivers from the San Diego Padres during the off-season.
Josh Horton and Leonardo Gil were two of the hottest hitters for the Rockhounds during the six-game roadtrip. Horton tore up the base paths with a .353 average and a 972 OPS. He reached base at a team-leading .560 clip and also drove in three runs. Gil, in three games, went 4-for-9 and had one RBI. He hit .444.
Despite only batting .080, Michael Spina tied Dusty Coleman for the team-lead in RBIs with four. Coleman and Conner Crumbliss provided all the power for Midland. The duo combined for three home runs. Crumbliss had two.
Another notable player was Anthony Aliotti. He hit .333 in nine at-bats and drove in three runners.
The pitching rotation was bolstered by No. 1 starter A.J. Griffin. He was phenomenal to start the year. In 11.0 innings he allowed no runs. Griffin averaged more than a strikeout per inning (16) and walked only two hitters. The other successful starters were Gary Daley, Jr. and Dan Straily. Daley worked through six innings in game two of a 5-4 victory over Springfield. He did not allow a run while fanning four. Straily threw 4.2 innings and struck out seven against Arkansas and also did not give up any runs in his first start. He took the ball for the Rockhounds' home opener and also pitched well, allowing two runs on three hits in six innings. Straily struck-out six and walked none.
Murphy Smith, Trey Barham and Bruce Billings all got off on the right foot out of the Rockhounds' bullpen on the roadtrip. Smith worked four innings of relief, gave up no earned runs and struck out six. Barham and Billings each maneuvered through three innings and allowed no runs. Barham recorded five strike-outs. In the home opener, Billings earned the win in relief despite allowing two runs in 2.2 innings and Barham had a hold with a scoreless one-third of an inning.