NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Sophomore first baseman Dominic Keegan and freshman catcher CJ Rodriguez each had two hits to lead the Gold Team to a 3-2 win in the opening game of the Black and Gold Series at Hawkins Field.
Rodriguez also scored twice in his team’s seven-inning victory.
“I’ve been dreaming about this for a while,” Rodriguez said. “So to finally get a chance to come out and do it, it’s been awesome.”
The California product Rodriguez also caught every inning that starter Mason Hickman, reliever Michael Doolin and closer Chance Huff threw. Hickman went three innings and gave up two earned runs while striking out five.
Doolin worked around two hits in his three scoreless innings and Huff closed it out after a lead-off walk was thrown out at second by Rodriguez in the seventh.
“Having a couple injuries have allowed us freshmen to play every day, so that’s been nice,” Rodriguez said. “The experience we’re getting of playing every day and catching every day with these guys is really helping us along the way.”
Both of Rodriguez’s and Keegan’s hits came of Black Team starter Kumar Rocker. Rocker gave up three earned runs on five hits and fanned five in three innings of work.
Rodriguez hit a one-out double off of Rocker in the first inning and scored on Keegan’s single up the middle making it 1-0. Parker Noland countered for the Black Team in the top of the second by getting to second on a line drive that was misplayed in center and he scored on a Maxwell Romero triple.
Troy Lavene then plated Romero with a sacrifice fly making it 2-1.
The Gold Team opened a rally in the third with a soft single to right off the bat of Rodriguez and a double into the gap from Keegan. After Sterling Hayes was hit by a pitch, Carter Young rolled a dribbler up the first-base line that couldn’t be fielded and that allowed Rodriguez to come home to tie the game.
Tyler McKenzie made it 3-2 with a grounder to third on the 11th pitch of his at-bat.
That proved to be the winner.
“It was really competitive. Both sides started off early being really competitive,” Keegan said of Thursday’s game. “Offense was swinging the beats well and then I think the two freshmen that came in after the starters pitched really well. They calmed the game down and there wasn’t really a lot of hitting going on during that period of the game.”
Sam Hliboki pitched three innings for the Black Team and allowed just one hit while striking out five. Outfielder Matt Hogan finished 2-for-4
The two sides are scheduled to resume the series at 5 p.m. Friday and if the Black Team pulls out a win the squads will play a winner-take-all, two-inning tiebreaker.