Greg Porter, the league’s player of the year with Wichita last season, chipped in his first home run for Grand Prairie with a two-run blast in the fifth inning as the AirHogs, 3-0 prior to Tuesday’s two setbacks, improved to 4-2 on the young season.
Sioux City, finishing up a season-opening road trip, managed a 4-3 record on the murderous 2,727-mile trek to El Paso and suburban Dallas. The X’s will open their home schedule Friday night against the Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants, formerly the Canaries.
With major league scouts galore on hand for a 10:30 a.m. Kid’s Day contest, rookie lefthander James Paxton turned in a strong performance for Grand Prairie, which expects to lose the former University of Kentucky star after baseball’s first-year player draft June 7-9.
Paxton was a supplemental first-round selection by Toronto last year, but opted to return to Kentucky for his senior season. However, he was declared ineligible after he refused to cooperate with an investigation into whether or not his advisor, sports agent Scott Boras, had communicated with the Blue Jays on the southpaw’s behalf, violating NCAA rules.
Paxton, who yielded two runs while working just three innings in a season-opening start that turned into a two-day, 13-inning marathon, was much sharper in this outing. He held the X’s hitless through the first four innings before veteran catcher Ray Serrano, leading the league with 12 RBIs, poked a leadoff single to left field in the fifth frame.
It was the only hit the southpaw surrendered in six innings while striking out six batters and walking four. Two of those free passes followed Serrano’s base hit and the X’s turned it into a run when Darrick Hale, batting with the bases loaded and nobody out, bounced into a double play.
Meanwhile, Grand Prairie managed seven runs on just five hits as three Sioux City pitchers combined to pile up 10 walks on the day.
Camacho, who clashed the Manager Les Lancaster for the playoff-bound X’s of 2008, came into Wednesday’s action with a .435 batting average, eighth in the league, after driving in four runs with a single, triple and a home run as the Hogs lost 6-5 in Game 2 of Tuesday’s twin bill.
In his first at-bat Wednesday, the 29-year-old Venezuelan fouled off six straight 3-2 pitches before striking out on the 12th pitch from starter Chad Povich.
However, Povich, rocked for eight runs in just four innings in his first start last Friday, ran into more trouble this time, surrendering four walks in a four-run third inning that snapped a scoreless tie.
David Espinosa chipped in a base hit and a bases-loaded walk to Greg Porter forced in one run before Camacho ripped the first pitch from Povich for a two-run single. Aaron Garza’s sacrifice fly, then, made it a 4-0 cushion.
Porter’s homer made it 6-1 in the fifth and the X’s trailed 7-1 before plating three runs in the eighth inning and adding another in the ninth on the first professional home run by Hale, the rookie shortstop.
Hale also led off the eighth with a base hit while Derek Schermerhorn added a single to spark a rally that was helped along by an hit batsman, a wild pitch and an apparent base hit by Dustin Jones that was ruled an error on the third baseman.