The Frisco RoughRiders found the perfect solution to their two-game losing skid: Eric Hurley and the long ball.
A combination of the two led the RoughRiders to a 5-4 victory over the Midland Rockhounds on Monday night at Dr. Pepper Ballpark.
Hurley was masterful, as he held the Rockhounds to no runs on only four hits in seven innings. He struck out four hitters and walked just one. In seven games this year, the Rangers' top pitching prospect is 5-0 with a miniscule 1.47 ERA.
The bullpen made things interesting late in the game, allowing two runs in each of the eighth and ninth innings, but held on for the 5-4 win.
The RoughRiders jumped ahead early in the game when Midland starter Kaz Tadano struggled in the bottom of the first. Anthony Webster led off the inning with a bunt single, before Casey Benjamin doubled. With two runners on, third baseman Travis Metcalf hit his fifth home run of the season over the left-field wall.
"I think it was a split-finger that he threw me," Metcalf said. "He just messed up and left it up. I thought it was gone when I hit it because of the part of the field I hit it to. It may have gotten in on me a little bit, but I know the ball really flies out to that part of the field."
Not content with a three-run lead, the RoughRider offense continued to hit the ball out of the park. Right fielder Steve Murphy hit his second home run of the season in the fifth inning, and second baseman German Duran hit his team-leading sixth round tripper in the seventh.
The Rangers' top pitching prospect didn't give up a hit until the third inning and controlled the hot-hitting Rockhounds all night long. What was most impressive was that Hurley pitched most of the night without using his slider as a strikeout pitch.
"I threw mainly with my fastball and changeup tonight," Hurley said. "Midland is a good hitting ball club and they are going to hit a fastball if you throw it early in the count. I threw my sliders early in the at bat. I wasn't using it as a strikeout pitch."
Hurley was a two-pitch pitcher when the Rangers drafted him in the first round of the 2005 draft, but added a changeup shortly after signing. The pitch is still not as good as his fastball and slider, but is quickly becoming a plus pitch.
"If I fell behind I was going to my changeup tonight and I threw it some on the first pitch to get some quick outs," Hurley said. "I get more and more confidence in my changeup each game. It is definitely taking a while, but it is feeling really good to me right now."
Hurley's changeup was clocking in between 82-84 mph on the stadium radar gun, while his fastball was 91-92 early in the game, before improving to 93-94 in the middle innings. His fastball peaked at 96 mph in the fourth inning. When he threw sliders, they were also in the low 80s.
When Hurley left the game after the seven innings and 105 pitches, the game looked well in hand. Relievers Bill White and Jesse Ingram allowed two runs each, but Frisco held on for the win when Ingram struck out Richie Robnett with the tying run on base in the ninth. The save was Ingram's seventh of the season.
Frisco rides Hurley, long ball to victory
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