I recall a story from my friend, the late great Merle Harmon, who was a sportscaster for almost 50 years when he started broadcasting back in 1949 when he was the Radio Voice of the Class C Topeka Owls and he made his debut by broadcasting a doubleheader, which was an oddity then and an oddity now. It could not have been a more challenging experience for Merle. The temperature hovered around 103 degrees. One game of the doubleheader went 14 innings and the other game was something like 14-13. There were many passed balls, wild pitches and errors to boot as well. Not only that, Merle admitted that he was announcing the twinbill with a terrible headache! Merle felt obligated when he apologized to his audience for not going out 100 percent that day! He mentioned on the air, "You know what it's like to have a splitting headache!". Merle felt proud that he did his duty in telling his audience--UNTIL he got a postcard a few days later. It was from a female fan who tuned in to the broadcast. Merle was crushed when he read the postcard with the following message: "We enjoyed the broadcast that you did the other day UNTIL you mentioned the headache! Please don't tell us your troubles-just broadcast the game!". Eventually, Harmon got the message as he realized that people were depending on him to entertain and inform and more importantly, keep people from thinking about their own problems. He thought that someone might have been either sick in bed or in the hospital and then understood that people had worse experiences than he and that he shouldn't complain about his own problems. Put people ahead of yourself. That is something that stays with me to this very day. I never uttered about my condition on the air because NO one needed to hear about my dilemma. I had a job to do and a broadcast to do and I was determined to do it no matter what the situation was for me! People were looking up to me and I had a responsibility.
The Sounds won a squeaker in the opener on June 13th when they nipped Round Rock, 7-6. The Sounds led 7-2, but had to sweat it out since the Express' offense continued to persevere. They scored three runs in the 5th inning off Josh Butler, the eventual winner and scored another run in the 6th on a lead-off home run by another Butler, Joey Butler. Sounds' Reliever Sean Green closed out the game with 2 superb innings of relief as he retired all six batters that he faced and fanned 4 of them. It was a badly needed victory after the Sounds had blown a 14-9 lead only to lose 16-14 to the Isotopes in Albuquerque the day before. Going back to the game, the Sounds' home run barrage continued as Brandon Boggs lead off the first inning with a home run and Mat Gamel belted 2 homers in the game, including a 2-run shot in the 3rd inning. It would be the 2nd time this year that the Brewers' top prospect would have a 2-homer game against Round Rock!
The next night, Gamel's hot hitting would continue as he collected three hits and drove in what appeared at the time was a big run-and it was as the Sounds increased their lead to 4-2 going into the 9th inning. Unfortunately, Sounds Lefty Reliever Daniel Herrera could not hang onto the lead. After a scoreless 8th and not allow a run at all since joining the Sounds/Brewers in May, Herrera proceeded to give up a game-tying pinch hit 2 run homer to Matt Kata. It was the first 2 runs that Herrera had allowed since joining the Brewers organization after he was picked up on waivers from the Cincinnati Reds. The Sounds would bail him out in the bottom of the 10th as Taylor Green doubled with one out and after Brandon Boggs was intentionally walked by the Express' flame thrower, right hand reliever Pedro Strop, Sounds Second Baseman Eric Farris came through with an RBI single to drive in Taylor Green with the winning run. Green had almost held up at third, but when Express' right fielder Joey Butler bobbled Farris' batted ball, Green would eventually score the winning run as the Sounds won their first extra-inning game of the season by defeating Round Rock, 5-4 in 10 innings. The Sounds appeared as if they are getting revenge from Round Rock after the Express swept the Sounds during their first trip to Texas in early May.
The next night, though, the Sounds would fall short of their sweep attempt as they lost the 3rd game of the series to the Express, 4-3. The Sounds did grab the lead, 2-1 in the 6th inning against former Brewer and current Round Rock Pitcher, Seth "Big Red" McClung, who did not allow a run in the game until giving up a 2-run single to Sounds Catcher Mike Rivera in the inning. Round Rock would respond with two runs against Sounds Starter Sam Narron, after the first 2 Express Batters were retired in the inning. Express 3rd Baseman Brian Barden homered over the right field fence to tie the game at 2-2 and then Joey Butler doubled and scored when former Sound Luis Cruz would single to left field to give the Express a 3-2 lead. It would stay that way until the 8th inning when Sounds Center Fielder Brett Carroll would tie it with a homer just inside the right field foul pole. It was Carroll's 8th homer of the year and suddenly the score was 3-3. The Sounds had a golden opportunity to win it in the 9th inning. Taylor Green lead off with a double to right and Jordan Brown then sacrificed Green to third. Round Rock Manager Bobby Jones then summoned reliever Cody Eppley into the game to face Sounds 3rd Baseman Zelous Wheeler, but unfortunately, the young Alabama native struck out and after Brandon Boggs was intentionally walked, Sounds Second Baseman Eric Farris struck out and two runners were left stranded. Round Rock would win it in the 10th inning as the usually reliable reliever Sean Green would come into the pitch in the game. Unfortunately, it was not Green's night as Julio Borbon reached on a bunt single with one out. After Brett Kata walked, Rangers' Top Prospect Chris Davis sinlged home Borbon from 3rd to give the Express the lead for good. It was also a tough night for Davis, who had gone hitless in his first four at-bats and had fanned 3 times. But not so in the 10th inning and collected his 32nd RBI of the year. Brett Carroll lead off the bottom of the inning with a walk, but Eppley retired the next 3 batters, including 2 on strikeouts to get the inning. It was a frustrating loss for the Sounds who played and won 2 tough games against the Express at the start of the series.
For the Sounds the next night, it would be a great comeback as Amaury Rivas hurled seven scoreless innings and walking just two and fanning 8 as the Sounds won the ballgame, 1-0. It was a great bounceback for Rivas who walked six batters in 4.1 innings in his previous start against the Isotopes in Albuquerque as the Sounds lost that game 5-2. At one stretch, Rivas retired 9 in a row and had everything working. Scott Feldman, the Express starter who had spent time in the past with the Rangers, would exchange goose eggs as well. Derek Hankins relieveed in the 6th and had a scoreless 1-2-3 inning. However, the next inning, Brett Carroll would pretty much decide things when he homered over the left field wall for his 9th homer of the year and the Sounds won the game. It was the ONLY hit the Sounds had all night, but this one was the decisive one and pretty much decided things as Sounds Relievers Donovan Hand and Zack Segovia each hurled one scoreless inning in relief. It was also Segovia's first save of the year. Prior to the game, I spoke with Carroll and like myself, he was under the weather. He felt flu-like with a terrible headache. I told him that if one is sick, they usually relax more since they are so pre-occupied with their illness. Anyway, he came through with his screaming line drive over the left field wall to clinch the Sounds' win.
The Sounds took 3 of 4 from Round Rock and sort of gain revenged against the Express, albeit the Sounds didn't sweep them. It gave the Sounds hope and promise going into their next series with the Memphis Redbirds at AutoZone Park. It was going to be a vital series since the Sounds would begin to play a stretch of 9 straight games against teams in their own division: first the Redbirds and then second with the Omaha Storm Chasers at home. It gave the Sounds a chance to think and to reflect and it gave them some much needed confidence. There were more than 6,200 fans for the 1-0 win since it was Taco Bell Throwback Night with Fans enjoying reduced prices of concession items at the ballpark and the Sounds wearing their 1980's style retro jerseys. This is a promotion the Sounds have every Thursday night and we encourage you to come out. The next blog will involve the important games against the Memphis Redbirds at AutoZone Park and then back home against the Omaha Storm Chasers at Greer Stadium! Can the Sounds continue the momentum? You'll find out more on the next blog. Until then, thank you for checking in as always!