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Castillo's Grand Slam Helps Lift Sod Poodles Past Travs 8-7

Second Career Grand Slam for Neyfy Castillo; Amarillo's Sixth in 2023
August 15, 2023

Amarillo, Texas (August 15, 2023) – Amarillo and Arkansas began their series with seven combined home runs, including Neyfy Castillo's second career grand slam on Tuesday night. The Sod Poodles built a five-run lead after the fifth and were able to outlast the Travs in the later innings. Conor Grammes

Amarillo, Texas (August 15, 2023) – Amarillo and Arkansas began their series with seven combined home runs, including Neyfy Castillo's second career grand slam on Tuesday night. The Sod Poodles built a five-run lead after the fifth and were able to outlast the Travs in the later innings.

Conor Grammes got the start on the mound for Amarillo - a spot he has been used in lately as an opener. After striking out two in the first, three walks in the second, the first of which came around to score on a two-run home run, had the bases loaded. Dillon Larsen took over on the mound and kept all three Travelers stranded to keep it at just a two-run deficit.

Ivan Melendez cut the Travs lead in half as he jumped on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the inning. It was the 11th home run in Double-A for the D-backs' no. 8-rated prospect and his 29th overall on the season. Larsen sent the bats right back to work as he struck out two during his first full inning of labor. Kevin Vicuña kept the bottom of the third alive with a two-out single before Amarillo's second straight hit put runners on the corners. The Sod Poodles leader in RBI this year added one more to his season total to tie the game at 2-2. Larsen worked his second straight clean inning helped by a double play started by Melendez at the hot corner to erase a lead-off walk to begin the top of the fourth.

The Sod Poodles didn't wait until two outs to start hitting during their fourth trip to the plate. Each of the first two batters reached via singles but was followed by a flyout and a fielder's choice groundout to have runners on the corners. Both Sod Poodles were left stranded and unable to grab their first lead of the night. Christian Montes De Oca was the second reliever of the game as he took over for Larsen in the top of the fifth. After a two-out double and a pair of walks, Montes De Oca left all three stranded thanks to a leaping grab by Nick Dalesandro in left field.

Like Melendez in the second, Vicuña launched the first pitch he saw in the fifth to give Amarillo the lead. An infield single and walk put two more aboard as the Sod Poodles looked to build on their advantage with one out. The second walk of the frame brought an end to Kyle Tyler's night on the bump after the right-hander loaded the bases. A.J. Puckett earned a strikeout and then worked a full count to Neyfy Castillo. The right-handed bat blew the game open with a grand slam to left-center field to make it 7-2.

Montes De Oca retired the first two in the top of the sixth before the Travs got one back with a solo home run off the bat of Connor Hoover. The 15-pitch top of the sixth for Montes De Oca was completed as he induced a routine ground ball to Tim Tawa manning second base. Vukovich got that run right back in the next half inning with his second RBI single of the night to score Dalesandro who reached via an error to kickstart the inning. The Sod Poodles left two more stranded after Melendez added another two-out hit for Amarillo.

Deyvison De Los Santos hit a leadoff double - his second hit of the night - in the seventh after ending the top of the inning by starting a double play. The D-backs' no. 5-rated prospect was left standing on third after advancing on a deep flyout by J.J. D'Orazio. Arkansas hit their third home run of the night, another solo shot in the top of the eighth. A walk and one-out double issued by Will Mabrey followed. Amarillo traded the fifth run of the night for the second out of the inning before a lineout ended the eighth and kept it at an 8-5 game. The top of the Sod Poodles order went down in order and brought on Jake Rice from the bullpen.

The ninth walk of the game by Amarillo pitchers helped to make it a one-run game as a one-out two-run home run cut it to 8-7. Rice responded by striking out the next batter he faced. The left-hander earned his third save of the year as a ground ball sealed the 8-7 victory in the first game of the series.

The series will continue Wednesday as LHP Yu-Min Lin takes the mound for Amarillo. The D-backs' no. 4-rated prospect is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA through his first five Double-A starts. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.


TITANIC SZN: Ivan Melendez made it two-straight games with a home run after leading off the bottom of the second with his 11th since arriving in Amarillo. It is the second time Melendez has had consecutive games with a home run, and the 19th time by an Amarilo player this season. It marked his 29th overall home run on the season, tied for third-most in the minors this year. He moved into a tie for the 14th most home runs in a single season by a D-backs farm hand. The D-backs' no. 8-rated prospect leads all of Double-A in home runs and RBI (29) since donning his Amarillo threads. The former Texas Longhorn also ranks T-2nd in total bases (66), T-4th in XBH (15), and T-4th in SLG (.688)

AYYY J: D-backs' no. 10-rated prospect A.J. Vukovich added to his team lead in RBI, collecting his 80th of the year with a RBI single in the bottom of the third inning. He added to it with another RBI single in the bottom of the sixth. His 81 RBI are now tied for the second-most in a single season in franchise history, tying Stone Garrett's mark he set during the 2021 season. He is second in the Texas League in the category this year and is 3rd in all of Double-A

NEW SS, WHO DIS: Taking over the everyday shortstop role vacated by the promotion of Jordan Lawlar, Kevin Vicuña tallied his fourth multi-hit game of the year finishing 2-for-5 with a home run, RBI, and two runs scored. He went his first 20 games of the year without a multi-hit game and now has four over his last seven games. In 27 games this year, he is hitting .271 (23-for-85) with four doubles and four home runs.

SHOW ME THE WAY TO SLAMARILLO: Neyfy Castillo became the newest resident of Slamarillo as he crushed the 17th grand slam in Sod Poodles history. It was the sixth hit this season by Amarillo and Castillo's second career grand slam. Both of his grand swings have come against Seattle Mariners affiliates, with his first coming last season on Sept. 8 against Everett. Tuesday's blast was the 12th of the season for Castillo and his first since August 1 at HODGETOWN against Corpus Christi.

TOP HEAVY: Amarillo's first four in the batting order all recorded multi-hit performances and finished the night 8-for-18 (.444) with two home runs, four RBI, and five runs scored.

LARSEN-THREE: Dillon Larsen matched his season-high with 3.0 IP on Tuesday night, allowing just one hit and striking out two as he did not yield a run. He worked around three walks in the outing to pitch his fourth scoreless appearance in six outings with Amarillo in 2023.