PONDER A WELCOME RELIEF FOR GENERALS
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Dallas Ponder has pitched only two innings in the last month, but it was hard to tell.
Ponder threw 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to lead the Victoria Generals to a 3-2 win over the Alexandria Aces on Friday night at Riverside Stadium.
"I knew he threw some good innings last year," said Generals coach Chris Clemons. "We got in a bind and his name came up and I knew he was a strike thrower. He was excited to put on a Generals uniform and that's what I want. He was just an absolute pleasant surprise."
Ponder made his last start for Texas A&M-Kingsville in its final Lone Star Conference series. He threw an inning of relief for the Javelinas in the conference tournament and another inning in the regional tournament.
He tried to stay as sharp as possible by working out after returning home to Flatonia.
"I've been throwing mostly to my little brother at home," Ponder said. "I got a few bullpens in from the high school catchers back home."
Ponder was added to the Generals roster last week, but was unable to join them for their recent road trip. He was at the park for Wednesday night's game, but didn't pitch.
He was summoned to the game by Clemons in the top of the fifth inning with one out and the bases loaded.
Ponder responded by getting Ryan Wagner to hit into a shortstop to second to first double play. He allowed only one hit and hit a batter, while striking out 10 to earn his first win of the season.
"For him to come out and compete the way he did that says a lot for his character," said Clemons, who was watching Ponder pitch for the first time. "He takes pride in playing. That's just something that can't be taught. He is a competitor. He'd throw a bad pitch or two and be right back on his game after that."
Ponder made good use of his slider, striking out the last five batters he faced.
"I threw one changeup. I was mostly throwing my slider," he said. "That's what was making them look like they were."
Ponder retired the last nine batters after hitting Nathan Hale with a pitch to start the seventh inning.
"I kind of expect myself to do that," he said. "I hold myself to high expectations."
The Generals pushed across the winning run in the fifth inning when Trent Wagner reached on a three-base error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Trace Knoblauch, who hit two doubles.
Bryce Zak started for the Generals, but was victimized by an errant pickoff throw and six walks.
The Aces and Generals return to Riverside Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Generals 3, Aces 2
Alexandria 001 010 000 - 2 5 1
Victoria 100 110 00x - 3 6 1
Will Abbott, Zach Rodgers (3) and Ryan Wagner. Bryce Zak, Dallas Ponder (5) and Eric Weiss. W: Ponder (1-0). L: Rodgers (0-2). 2B: (A) Nathan Hale; (V) Trace Knoblauch 2, Chad Kruse. Highllghts: (A) Hale 1 for 2, 2B, R, RBI, SB; Jami Rachal 2 for 4. (V) Ponder 4.1 1 H, 1 HP, 10 K; Jude Vidrine 2 for 4; Knoblauch 2 for 3, 2 2B, RBI. Records: Alexandria 3-9; Victoria 7-4.