Espino’s electric in Isotopes’ 13-8 win

Catcher goes 4-for-5, drives in five runs to lead Albuquerque

For the second time in as many days, Damaso Espino contributed to an Isotopes victory. But today, the difference was there were no run-ins with any wayward pitches.

On Monday night, Espino got plunked to load the bases in the ninth inning and set up J.D. Closser‘s game-winning sacrifice fly. Tuesday was likely more pleasant for the Panama City, Panama native, as he went 4-for-5 and drove in five runs to pace Albuquerque in a 13-8 win over the New Orleans Zephyrs.

Espino started a three-run burst by the ‘Topes in the bottom of the eighth that gave them some insurance. With his team nursing a 10-8 lead, he came up to bat with two outs and Jamie Hoffmann just ninety feet away (he had doubled and moved to third on a ground out earlier). Espino then hit a grounder to New Orleans second baseman Jesus Merchan, but the infielder’s throw got away from first baseman Ruben Gotay, allowing Hoffmann to score.

Another critical error hurt the Z’s on the next at-bat. Shortstop Ryan Klosterman was unable to stop a grounder by Albuquerque’s Wilberto Ortiz, who managed to stretch it into a double. With him on second and Espino at third, Closser came up to bat and knocked a single to center field to bring in both Ortiz and Espino for a 13-8 ‘Topes lead.

That bottom half of the eighth effectively finished the game, as Roman Colon came on to pitch for the ‘Topes in the ninth and took down the Z’s in 1-2-3 fashion to clinch the contest.

Albuquerque spotted the Z’s a pair of runs in the top of the first, then took the lead back with three runs in their half of the inning. After a scoreless second for both sides, the ‘Topes tacked on three runs in the third and another four runs in the fourth for a 10-2 lead.

In the third, Espino cracked a two-out single to bring home Hoffmann. Ortiz followed with a double to right-center (scoring Espino) and then starting pitcher Dana Eveland got in the act with a single down the left-field line (scoring Ortiz).

In the fourth, Corey Smith hit a double down the left-field line to bring in Trayvon Robinson and make it 7-2 ‘Topes. Shortly after, Frank Mata took over for New Orleans on the mound, but it didn’t stop Russ Mitchell from hitting a sacrifice grounder to short that scored Trent Oeltjen. Espino then struck again with a single to center, scoring Smith and Hoffmann (who had walked to get on base) to make it 10-2 Albuquerque.

New Orleans wouldn’t go quietly, though. The Z’s tagged Eveland for two runs in the top of the fifth to cut the gap to 10-4, and then scored a run off reliever Jon Link in the sixth to make it 10-5 ‘Topes. But the big bite came in the top of the eighth.

With Scott Elbert now on the mound for Albuquerque, Merchan got on base with a single and then moved to second on a wild pitch. Aaron Mathews then drew a walk to bring up Bryan Petersen, who rocked a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right-center field and brought the Z’s to within 10-8.

But Elbert managed to stop the bleeding two batters later by inducing a ground out from Gotay, setting up the critical bottom of the eighth for Albuquerque.

Eveland took the win for the ‘Topes, improving to 3-1 on the season. He went five innings and gave up four runs (two earned) on six hits. Taking the loss for the Z’s was Adalberto Mendez (1-2), who gave up 10 runs (all earned) on 11 hits over three innings.

For more details on today’s contest, check out AlbuquerqueBaseball.com later tonight.

-Chris Estrada

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