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• Right-hander Mike Ballard took to the hill Sunday afternoon with hopes of keeping the good times rolling for the Roughriders. However, he failed to provide the stellar performance the Roughriders were hoping for.
The 24-year old, who usually demonstrates excellent control, ran into trouble with his command almost immediately thanks to a three walk first inning. Luckily, the Frisco defense was able to turn a key double play to escape the inning unscathed.
As is usually the trend with Ballard, his fastball traipsed around the 88-90 mph range, and he was able to use his curveball effectively, collecting six strikeouts. But the Midland offense jumped on him in the second and third innings for a run each, and then put two more on the board in the top of the fifth thanks to a two-run double by the mettlesome Jon Zeringue.
He lasted five innings, allowing five runs on four hits while issuing an uncharacteristically high five walks.
• Catcher Max Ramirez keeps right on hitting.
With a 3-for-5 afternoon, he's now up to .390 on the month-old season. One of his three hits was a two-run homer off Midland start Ryan Webb in the bottom of the second.
"He threw me a slider," Ramirez said of the offering he drove out for homerun number seven.
"It was right in the middle. It was a 2-2 count, and I was just trying to swing at everything that was close to the sun."
As hot as he's been over the first month of the season, Ramirez has practically been living on the sun. But he says that the April promotion of fellow catcher Taylor Teagarden, who had a considerably lower average, was not something he's getting worked up about.
"Taylor's a really good catcher and he had really good numbers when he played here last year," he said of his former teammate in Frisco.
"It's different for everybody. You don't feel good or bad about it, but he is a good player.
"I'll just continue to do my job."
• Outfielder Ben Harrison is another Roughrider in the midst of a hot streak.
He added a single and a solo homerun in the eighth to raise his batting average to .362 on the season. In the last 10 games however, he's now batting a cool .410 with four homers and 13 runs driven in.
"I'm just trying to go at-bat to at-bat." Harrison said of his recent outburst at the plate.
"In my first time up, I felt really jumpy, so I kind of widened it out a little bit, tried to simple it up and do less.
Harrison added that he's out to discover some of what he's made of this season.
"I'm just trying to find out," he says.
"Some days it feels good right out of the chute and some days it might take an at-bat or two, but I'm just trying to not give any of them away."
Harrison's efforts at the plate are just one of the reasons why the Roughriders sit atop the Texas League in batting average, runs batted in, and homeruns.
• Emerson Frostad's inaugural season as a full-time third baseman continues on.
In the first inning, he turned a key double play to bail Michael Ballard out of a bases loaded jam and send things to the bottom of the first with no score. A resident of the hot corner by trade, Frostad says he's getting used to playing third all over again.
"I haven't played there for two years after catching and playing first last season, but I was drafted as a third baseman so I'm definitely getting pretty comfortable over there."
Frostad also talked about the change it takes to play third base as opposed to first.
"There's just a lot more that goes into it," he said.
"At first base there's not much defensively going on. You kinda just go to the bag and catch the ball. At third you've got to turn double plays and get bunts, and I think it gets you in the game a little more."
• Frisco's Alfredo Gonzalez had a forgettable afternoon. The Rockhounds roughed up the reliever with five runs on four hits over two innings of work following Ballard's exit from the game. The big blow came in the form of a grand slam from catcher Anthony Recker.
• The speedy Midland team had a big day on the base paths, swiping a whopping six bases off Max Ramirez and crew. Shortstop Cliff Pennington and outfielder Todd Donovan led the way with two stolen bases each off Ramirez.
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