Hartford Yard Goats win 10-6 behind big fourth inning

DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: The ball lies on the grass as the Atlanta Braves face the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 11, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JUNE 11: The ball lies on the grass as the Atlanta Braves face the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on June 11, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) /

HARRISBURG, PA. — On Monday night, the Hartford Yard Goats, the Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, began a three-game series on the road against the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals. Hartford has had an interesting start to the season, beginning the 2018 campaign by losing six in a row, but bouncing back to win seven in a row. Now, the Yard Goats are 11-11 and are looking for a big series win against Harrisburg to stay above .500 on the young season.

Ryan Castellani, ranked as the eighth-best prospect currently in the Colorado Rockies system, was on the mound Monday night for the Yard Goats. Castellani did not start during a series against the Senators earlier in the season, but the Yard Goats swept the Senators in that series and were carrying some of that confidence into Harrisburg on Monday night.

"“We’re feeling good,” Yard Goats manager Warren Schaeffer said prior to the game. “We’ve got (Ryan) Castellani going for us tonight, (Jesus) Tinoco tomorrow, and (Peter) Lambert on Wednesday. We’re lined up pretty good for the series. It’s a beautiful ballpark here and we’re ready to play and see what we can do.”"

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After a quick first inning in which both starting pitchers retired the side in order, the Yard Goats got on the board first in the second inning courtesy of a Brian Mundell solo shot that landed deep in the seats in left field. Mylz Jones followed up Mundell’s homer with a triple into the right field gap and he came home on a sacrifice fly from Wes Rogers to give the Yard Goats a 2-0 lead after an inning and a half.

Castellani looked strong through the first two innings, needing just 21 pitches to retire all six batters he faced, picking up three strikeouts along the way. However, he ran into a little trouble in the third after he walked Senators’ shortstop Osvaldo Abreu. Abreu advanced to second on a bunt from Jaron Long, the Senators’ starting pitcher, and came home on a triple to right field from Daniel Johnson. Castellani was able to limit the damage and keep Johnson stranded at third.

The Yard Goats blew the game wide open in the fourth inning, scoring six runs on seven hits. Sam Hilliard and Jones both picked up singles to start the frame and both runners came home on a single to left field from Wes Rogers that resulted in an error as Senators’ left fielder Yadiel Hernandez fired the ball into the Yard Goats’ dugout. A triple from Castellani, which was his first career extra-base hit, and a two-run shot from Garrett Hampson capped off the inning to give the Yard Goats a commanding 8-2 lead.

"“It felt really good,” Castellani said of his first career extra base hit, “I got a good look at the guy in my first at bat and when I got the count to 1-0 and he threw a low fastball, I knew he was going to try to get back in the zone pitching against the pitcher. But I got a good swing on it and maybe a little lucky there.”"

Castellani ran into trouble again in the fourth, allowing the Senators to load the bases with one out on a single, an error, and a walk. However, he was able to escape the inning without damage thanks to a pair of strikeouts. After a solid fifth inning, Castellani was pinch hit for in the sixth inning. His final line for the evening was five innings pitched, one run allowed on three hits and a pair of walks plus eight strikeouts.

"“I had to go one pitch at a time,” Castellani said of the fourth-inning jam, “I knew that they were getting to the top of their order there and just being able to go off of past at bats I had seen and trusting Dom, we were able to get the outs. I broke out a curveball there that I hadn’t used yet and that, along with getting ahead, helped. It worked out.”"

In the top of the seventh inning, Brendan Rodgers knocked a two-run homer over the left field bleachers and onto the concourse to give the Yard Goats a 10-1 lead. With Rodgers’ home run, all nine of the hitters in the Yard Goats’ starting lineup had at least one hit on the night.

Despite allowing a three-run homerun to Hernandez in the bottom of the seventh inning, Yard Goats’ reliever Craig Schlitter was able to deliver two solid innings of relief to keep the Yard Goats ahead 10-4 after seven innings. Jason Garcia, who was traded from the Baltimore Orioles to the Rox during the 2017 offseason, pitched the eighth inning and gave up a two-run homer to Jake Lowery to allow the Senators to get back within four runs.

Logan Cozart was brought in for the Yard Goats to finish the game off in the ninth inning. He did just that, allowing just a single to the Senators in the bottom of the ninth to secure the 10-6 Yard Goats win. Castellani picked up the win to move to 2-1 on the season.

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"“I felt really good tonight,” Castellani said after the game, “I was getting ahead of guys and me and Dom (Nunez) were on the same page. We had a plan of attack, I was able to use all my pitches, Dom knew that and was calling everything we had, and I was able to throw it in the zone and get outs.”"