Just when people thought that Fairgrounds Field would be completely empty this summer, Continental Baseball League Owner Ron Baron brought the Corpus Christi Beach Dawgs to the Coastal Bend.
After losing their first two games, the Beach Dawgs did not disappoint the crowd at their home debut in Robstown Sunday with a 3-1 win over the Bay Area Toros.
"There's no question about it," said manager Hector Salinas. "We wanted to come home and play well. The kids played well, the pitching was outstanding."
Beach Dawg Travis Parker (1-0) was stellar on the mound, giving up just four hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings of play.
With the Toros ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the third inning, Bay Area starting pitcher Will Smeltzer (0-1) had one out against the Beach Dawgs with runners at first and second after giving up back-to-back walks.
Second baseman Tyler Kmetko hit a routine ground ball that was set up for an easy double play to short.
The 6-4-3 double play was poorly executed after Toro second baseman Patrick Hines overthrew the ball to first baseman Nick Shay.
Corpus Christi shortstop Mike Estrada took advantage of the Bay Area error, scoring from second base to make it 1-1.
With Kmetko at second base for third baseman Brad Coleman, Smeltzer had him behind the count with one ball and two strikes.
Smeltzer's next pitch resulted in an RBI-double to right field, giving the Beach Dawgs a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, Beach Dawg centerfielder Pedro Catala was at the plate. Smeltzer was still on the mound for the Toros and went to a full count on Catala.
Catala punished Smeltzer's next pitch with a fly ball over the left field wall, giving Catala and the Beach Dawgs the first home run ever for the new franchise.
"I had not had a base hit yet," Catala said. "I felt good after hitting that home run. I'm having a very good time with this team."
"That was huge for us, because it gave us an edge" Salinas added. "We were able to maintain composure and play good baseball."
Despite the loss, Smeltzer's performance was solid as he allowed just three hits and struck out six batters in six innings.
Plenty of scoring opportunities arose during the latter innings for the Toros, but they were unable to catch up.
The ninth inning provided a final shot for Bay Area.
With Beach Dawg reliever Toro Trevino on the mound, he had a shot to get the first save of the year for Corpus Christi.
After Toro designated hitter Brett Crossland reached base safely on an error from Kmetko, pinch runner Drew Taddia advanced to second on a routine ground out to third baseman Brian Schupp that put Taddia in scoring position with two outs.
Manager Jim Bolt decided to go with pinch-hitter Nicholas Czekaj for Bay Area's last hope to win its third straight.
Czekaj's hit a line drive to Kmetko for Corpus Christi's first win.
"I had to bring Toro back in there, because I knew he wanted another opportunity after what happened in Saturday's game," Salinas said. "I had to give him another opportunity and Toro came through."
Trevino allowed Bay Area to come back in the ninth inning Saturday for a 4-3 win.
Monday night's game saw the Beach Dawgs complete a home sweep against the Toros, winning 5-1.
Right fielder Josh Morgan has had a base hit in every game so far this season.
The Beach Dawgs moved to 2-2 and were tied for second place with Bay Area.