The Rocket City Trash Pandas embarked on their third baseball journey in 2023, which was filled once again with many memories both at Toyota Field and away from home. We went back and ranked our top ten moments of the season, starting with #6-10 which you can read here. Now,
The Rocket City Trash Pandas embarked on their third baseball journey in 2023, which was filled once again with many memories both at Toyota Field and away from home. We went back and ranked our top ten moments of the season, starting with #6-10 which you can read here. Now, for our top five...
5. Neto Goes Nuclear on Friday, Gets Called Up Saturday - April 14th
Zach Neto is no stranger to the spotlight. A first-round draft pick last year, he quickly made his way to Double-A and led a Trash Pandas playoff team in latter half of 2022. The shortstop started the 2023 campaign in Rocket City too, hitting .444 over the first week of the season. His primetime performance came on April 14th in Birmingham, where he blasted two homers and drove in five runs. With the Pandas holding an 11-0 lead, Neto was pulled from the game in the 8th inning -- nothing really out of the ordinary in a blowout contest. As it turned out, he actually got the call to The Show. On April 15th, it was announced that Neto was being promoted to the Los Angeles Angels, becoming the first 2022 draftee to make his debut. Oh yeah, and he got to do it in Fenway Park.
4. Tucker Flint Robs Two Home Runs in Same Game - July 26th
Preventing one would-be big fly is always an impressive feat. How about two in one night? That's what Trash Pandas outfielder Tucker Flint did against the Tennessee Smokies in July. In the third inning, Owen Caissie lofted a ball into deep left -- as it hung in the air, Flint drifted back, found the wall, and timed his jump perfectly to bring one back. Two innings later, Andy Weber hit one to nearly the exact same spot, but much harder off the bat. Flint scurried back, felt the warning track, and leapt into the wall for a spectacular crashing catch. It would ultimately be named as the "Premier Play of the Year" as voted on through Minor League Baseball social media channels.
3. Complete Game Kochanowicz - May 20th
Want to endear yourself to Trash Panda Nation? It's all about making a positive first impression, and Jack Kochanowicz did just that (and more) on May 20th. Making his first Toyota Field start after getting a promotion one week prior, the big right-hander donned our specialty Armed Forces jersey and went to work. Needing just 88 pitches to get through 9 innings against the Barons, Kochanowicz delivered the third nine-inning complete game in franchise history in front of a raucous Saturday night crowd. He nearly had the complete game shutout too -- he was one strike away when Yoelqui Cespedes went yard to dead center -- but it was a masterful performance nonetheless in his home debut.
2. Four Friday Night Walk-Offs
The Trash Pandas debuted brand new "Halo Blue" uniforms in 2023, worn every Friday night as a nod to our space exploration industry and our parent club, the Los Angeles Angels. With fresh threads and the always-electric weekend atmosphere at Toyota Field, Rocket City rode that energy to FOUR Friday night walk-off wins.
The party started on June 9th with a 10th inning wild pitch against the Smokies, which scored Aaron Whitefield and sent the fans into a frenzy. Nearly the exact same thing happened two weeks later. David Calabrese stood at the plate again in the 10th, and this time a Biscuits wild pitch sent Livan Soto to the plate for the clincher. The Chattanooga Lookouts were the next victim on July 7th. With two outs, two strikes, and two on in 9th, Tyler Payne set off the fireworks when he laced a single into center to score Jeremiah Jackson. Finally, on August 25th, Mac McCroskey drew a 10th inning bases loaded walk against the Barons for another dramatic victory. Yes, you read all that correctly -- four walk-offs and only one hit was needed between them.
1. 12-Run Comeback in Montgomery - May 30th
The three largest comebacks in Major League Baseball history are each 12 runs -- Cleveland over Seattle in 2001, Philadelphia over Cleveland in 1925, and Detroit over Chicago in 1911. On May 30th, 2023, the Trash Pandas faced that exact deficit heading into the 4th inning against the Biscuits.
Landon Marceaux started the game for Rocket City but didn't make it out of the 1st inning, surrendering 7 runs (none of them earned, incredibly) on 4 hits. Robinson Piña followed in relief and got clubbed as well, giving up 5 runs to Montgomery. Just like that it was 12-0. Surely the game is done and dusted from that point, no?
The Trash Pandas dug their cleats in and started to chip away. One run in the 4th, two runs in the 5th, another run in the 6th. Still 12-4, though...then the 7th inning happened. The box score reads as follows: Bryce Teodosio single, David Calabrese single, Edgar Quero reaches on an error, Orlando Martinez single, Jeremiah Jackson single, Tucker Flint hit by pitch, Aaron Whitefield walk, Jose Gomez sacrifice fly, Kevin Maitan walk, Bryce Teodosio double, David Calabrese groundout, Edgar Quero single, Orlando Martinez single, Jeremiah Jackson double, and a Tucker Flint strikeout. After all that, ELEVEN runs crossed the plate and Rocket City had a 15-12 lead which they would ultimately close out with a win.
Not to be lost amongst the incredible effort of the offense -- the Trash Pandas bullpen combination of Dakota Donovan, Brandon Dufault, Kolton Ingram, and Kenyon Yovan delivered 6.1 scoreless innings to hold the Biscuits at a dozen on the scoreboard. One of the greatest comebacks in the history of baseball, and it happened on a Tuesday night at Montgomery Riverwalk Stadium.