Newcomers go deep in first game with Generals
GENERALS 7, ACES 3
Record improves to 5-3
Next game: at Brazos Valley, Monday, 7 p.m.
Abel Baker had been in Victoria a whole two days.
When he took the field against the Alexandria Aces on Sunday, it was the first time he had put on a Generals uniform. He was still using his green and gold equipment from his first season at Baylor, where he made eight starts and 17 appearances for the Bears.
"It's about what I expected," he said. "There's good ball players. I'm just here to compete."
He made a nice first impression for the fans at Riverside Stadium too, driving the first pitch he saw over the fence in the left field power alley for a home run.
"I was looking first pitch fastball, and that's what I got and it was there, and I hit it good," said Baker.
His shot was part of back-to-back home runs with another newcomer, second baseman Conner Mach, who plays at the University of Missouri, and hit a home run right before Baker to the same part of the park.
"They're two guys that got numerous at-bats in the Big 12," said Generals coach Chris Clemons. "They got in yesterday, obviously this was their first game. They're going to take good hacks, and they took good hacks there and got it up into the jet stream."
It was a more than enough for starting pitcher Jared Hopper, who cruised through the first six innings against the Aces, helping Victoria to a 7-3 win over Alexandria.
Clemons said both Mach and expects both players to make big contributions for Victoria.
"What I liked was their attitude when they came in, they're hard-nosed players, and they are going to get after it and be huge pluses for the Generals," he said.
Mach and Baker's home runs in the second inning were more than enough for Hopper and the pitchers who followed him. The pitcher from Mary Hardin-Baylor faced one batter over the minimum number through five innings, allowing just three hits in six innings.
Hopper was supported by his defense, which committed no errors behind Hopper, Kolt Browder or Tom Filip, and turned a double play in the fifth inning to end the Aces lone early threat.
"I had a lot of good defense behind me," Hopper said. "There were a couple double plays that they turned and some nice plays in the infield."
Added Baker: "It was mainly just throwing strikes, getting outs, getting ground balls, pop ups. Throwing strikes was the main thing."
Clemons said the three pitchers who threw Sunday are superb pitchers with good stuff.
"When they are in the zone, they are going to be hard to hit," he said. "There were a few innings where they kind of got out of the zone, and that's where we gave up the runs."
All three of the Aces runs came at the end of the game, a run in the eighth inning and an RBI-double from shortstop Ryan Cummings in the ninth inning.
Sunday's game was Hopper's third appearance of the season, and his second start. He was the Generals' opening day starter, a five-inning, two-hit performance against the Texas Tomcats.
"You just got to throw strikes and not put people on and shoot yourself in the foot," Hopper said. "I really tried to be consistent and throw strikes and let them put it in play and let my defenders do what they did."
The Generals broke the game open in the sixth on a pinch hit triple with the bases loaded by Brian Nephew, who played for the Generals last season.
Baker will join a rotation of catchers behind the plate with Arizona State's Kyle Arnsberg and Central Arkansas' Michael Pair.
Generals 7, Aces 3
ALX 000 000 012 - 3 8 3
VIC 020 013 01x - 7 10 0
Cole Newell, David Mooney (6), Brent Noble (8) and Adam Todd; Jared Hopper, Kolt Browder (7) Tom Filip (9) and Abel Baker. Highlights: A. Baker 1-for-3, HR, 2 R, BB; Conner Mach 2-for-4, HR, SB, R; Brendan McGaheran 4-for-5, 2 2B, R; Brian Nephew 1-for-2, 3B, 3 RBI. Records: Generals 5-3, Aces 3-4.