MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: RockHounds letting solid play take care of playoff drive

Earlier this month, Minor League Baseball announced the return of the playoffs.

Postseason plans were put on hold after the 2021 season got off to a late start because of the coronavirus pandemic that canceled the 2020 campaign.

MiLB is looking to hold a best-of-5 series for Double-A, High-A and Low-A level teams to compete in starting Sept. 21.

The top two teams in each league will compete in postseason play.

Following their home series against the Corpus Christi Hooks last week, the Midland RockHounds sit in second place in the Double-A Central League’s South Division, seven games behind the Frisco RoughRiders.

Despite the late addition of postseason play into the mix, Midland manager Bobby Crosby said his team’s approach remains the same as it did when the season began in May.

He knows his players play the game the right way and he wants to see them be more consistent in getting positive results.

At multiple times during the season, the RockHounds have embarked on long winning streaks only to lose that momentum shortly after.

Their most recent winning streak went for eight straight games before the Hooks snapped it in the series opener.

“I didn’t expect to have as many ups and downs as we’ve had,” Crosby said. “We’ve had some really good runs where I think we had seven in a row, then we also had one where we had eight in a row.

“We’ve also had some tough stretches too, so I’d like to see us a little more consistent in that respect.”

The manager doesn’t want to look too far ahead in the 2021 campaign, as he wants to see his team make improvements day by day before focusing on postseason play.

RockHounds outfielder Mickey McDonald said it felt good to have a goal to compete for as the regular season reaches its latter half.

McDonald has provided some key moments for the Midland franchise when it has gone on positive stretches, including hitting a game-winning single in a stunning comeback against the Amarillo Sod Poodles on July 18.

The RockHounds were down 10-0 in the final game of their home series against Amarillo, until the bottom of the eighth inning when they brought in 10 quick scores to tie it up late.

With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, McDonald hit an RBI single to centerfield to score outfielder Devin Foyle and sealing an 11-10 win.

The victory gave the team momentum to seek something bigger as the campaign winds down.

“It kind of put us in a good spot to build on the momentum we got going right now,” McDonald said.

The outfielder added that his squad has seen better results when everyone has a team-first mentality on their turns at bat.

During the RockHounds’ bad stretches, it seemed like everyone was searching for individual moments, McDonald said.

Crosby called the team’s drive one of its biggest strengths this season, describing the clubhouse as the tightest he has ever been around.

He believes every player on the roster supports each other unconditionally.

“If they keep doing that, they should end the season on a pretty big high note,” Crosby said. “As long as they keep getting better, that’s all I really care about.”

After their home series against the Hooks, the RockHounds will spend two weeks on the road to play the Tulsa Drillers and the Wichita Wind Surge.

The team’s regular season is scheduled to be completed on Sept. 19 with a final home game against Tulsa at Momentum Bank Ballpark.

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