Chihuahuas Overcome Early Deficit, Top ‘Topes 5-3 in Home Opener
It had been over six hundred days since the El Paso played baseball at Southwest University Park, and Thursday night's home opener did not disappoint, as the Chihuahuas overcame a 3-0 deficit and defeated the Albuquerque Isotopes, 5-3.
The home debut—in front of 6,365 fans at Southwest University Park—was headlined by pitcher MacKenzie Gore, who is the Padres top prospect and the top pitching prospect in baseball. Though it was a bit of a roller-coaster evening for Gore, he settled down in an impressive fashion.
Starter MacKenzie Gore struggled in the game early on, as the 22-year-old allowed three hits and a run at the top of the second. He was able to get out of the inning with Isotopes runners stranded on first and third.
The top of the third brought forth more struggles for Gore, but he collected himself nobly. He allowed three consecutive pitches to start the inning, which led to a pair of runs scored. Gore bounced back by striking out catcher Jose Briceno, while second baseman Eric Stamets popped out to first to end the third.
He settled down in the fourth, fifth and sixth, where he allowed just one hit between the three innings. Gore struck out the side in the sixth, finishing with five strikeouts, eight hits and three runs (5.40 ERA, 6.0 IP) in his home debut for El Paso.
Offensively, scoring was tough to find for the home team. They got their first hit and scored a pair of runs in the fifth inning. First baseman Gosuke Katoh doubled to drive in Ivan Castillo, and Matt Batten drove in Nick Tanielu with an RBI ground out.
Trailing by one run at the bottom of the seventh, the Chihuahuas were able to pull off the comeback. It started with Katoh singling on a line drive to left field, bringing third baseman Nick Tanielu to 2nd. A Matt Batten single loaded up the bases as Taylor Kohlwey hit an RBI to drive Tanielu home. Following the tying run, Isotopes pitcher Chad Smith threw a wild pitch that allowed Katoh to sprint home for the go-ahead run.
El Paso tallied one more run at the bottom of the eighth when Tanielu hit a sacrifice fly to left and drove in Ben Ruta.
Kyle McGrath took the win on the mound for the Chihuahuas, as Katoh led the way on the bats with a double and two RBIs.
The Chihuahuas (4-3) and Isotopes (1-6) will square off on Friday night (7:05 PM) in the second game of the doubleheader.