Winnipeg Goldeyes rookie lefthander Reggie Hochstedler had a tough professional debut on Tuesday night.
Hochstedler, a 22-year-old rookie right out of Indiana State University was tagged for four runs on two hits – one of them a solo homer by Ryan Pineda and the other a two-run double by Keith Brachold – in the top of the seventh inning as the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks beat the Winnipeg Goldeyes 5-2 at Shaw Park.
It was the second exhibition game of the spring for the Goldeyes who finished a back-to-back series in Winnipeg against Fargo with a record of 1-1. The Goldeyes beat Fargo 10-6 on Monday night.
Hochstedler, who was handed the ball in the seventh by Goldeyes manager Rick Forney, just completed his collegiate career with the Indiana State Sycamores.
Tuesday night, he saw his first action as a professional, coming into the exhibition game with the score tied 1-1 in the seventh. After giving up a lead-off homer to Pineda, he got Todd Jennings to foul out. For a moment, it appeared as if any nervousness might have subsided, but he proceeded to walk Jeff Lundell, the No. 9 hitter, then Zach Penprase and Buddy Sosnoskie to load the bases. Tim Alberts hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-1 Fargo before Brachold doubled home two runs to make it 5-1.
It was a difficult start for the rookie, but there are still five more exhibition games, so Hochstedler will get plenty of chances to get a feel for American Association hitters. In the meantime, Forney was quite pleased with his team's overall effort.
"I thought the game was well played by both teams," Forney said. "I saw some good arms today, some good offense and defense. All around, it was a good day."
The Goldeyes added a run in the seventh when Nate Samson's ground out scored Leonard Davis from third and then they added another in the eighth when Casey Haerther doubled home Fehlandt Lentini, but that's as close as the home side got.
Nick Liles, who went who went two-for-four with an RBI was the player of the game. The Goldeyes finished with three runs on eight hits and no errors.
Although Hochstedler struggled – four earned runs on two hits and three walks – the rest of the staff was solid. In fact, Kaohi Downing, who celebrated his 27th birthday with a perfect eighth inning, striking out the first two batters he faced.
In total, the Goldeyes looked at seven pitchers. The first three pitched five innings of scoreless baseball – starter Matt Rusch, Edgar Osuna and Pete Gehle, who allowed no runs on two hits over three innings.
"Peter (Gehle) looked real good tonight," said Forney. "I liked the way the ball came out of his hand. He moved the ball around and his off-speed pitches kept the ball off the barrel of the bat. I thought he was real good.
"And I thought Kaohi looked real good. Kaohi's arm speed was good and his release point was a little lower than I remember it last year. I thought he did a real good job."
Chris Allen gave up a run in the sixth and then Hochstedler gave up four in the seventh. The seven pitchers struck out 13 RedHawks.
The Goldeyes will work out on Wednesday and Thursday at Shaw Park and then will play their final home pre-season game on Friday night against the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.
"We'll be out on the field for about an hour and a half tomorrow," said Forney. "It will be a short day on the legs. We're going to install our bunt play defenses tomorrow, but for the most part it won't be a tough day. And it will be a real light day for our pitchers. I don't think anyone has to throw. They'll just run tomorrow."