Sunday, April 8, 2018

ShoTime!: Ohtani hurls 7 superb innings, Angels beat A's 6-1

Shohei Ohtani seemed to be the only person in Angel Stadium who wasn't incredibly impressed while he mowed down the Oakland Athletics' first 19 batters in order.
But when Ohtani finally yielded a hit and then struck out Matt Olson with two runners on to end the seventh inning, he gave a fist pump and a celebratory scream at the ground while the crowd rose for a standing ovation.
Even the two-way Japanese sensation realized his first home pitching start was a thrilling moment in his increasingly incredible rookie season.
Ohtani threw seven shutout innings of one-hit ball in his home debut on the mound, propelling the Los Angeles Angels to a 6-1 victory Sunday.
Marcus Semien's clean one-out single to left broke up Ohtani's bid for a perfect game, but he finished the inning with his 12th strikeout. Mixing 99 mph fastballs with precipitous breaking pitches and tremendous professional cool, Ohtani (2-0) was too much for Oakland - until the seventh, when he showed resilience, too.
"I wanted to keep a clean zero on the board," Ohtani said. "One hit would (mean) two runs, and it's a huge difference. I wanted that strikeout, and I got it."
Ohtani struck out the side twice during the latest feat in a series of early season superlatives by the 23-year-old prodigy. He won his pitching debut in Oakland last weekend with six strong innings, and he homered in three consecutive games in Anaheim between starts in his attempt to become the first regular two-way player in decades.
"Especially with how my spring training went, I wasn't really imagining (the start of the season) to be this good, to be honest," Ohtani said. "I feel better every day. I feel like I'm getting used to everything more and more each day. But it's just the first week."
He was sharp from the beginning on a gorgeous day in Orange County, striking out the side in the first inning on 15 pitches. Ohtani struck out the side again in the fifth inning, and he fanned every Oakland batter except Jonathan Lucroy at least once.
"He got off to a good start, the crowd got into it (and) he got a little bit of a generous strike zone, all of that," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "But the bottom line is he pitched really well."
Jed Lowrie drew a four-pitch walk after Semien's single, but Ohtani ended the threat by inducing Khris Davis' weak groundout before fanning Olson. He left the mound to the last of several standing ovations from his enthralled new fans in the sellout crowd - an unheard-of gathering at Angel Stadium in April.
"It's a rare kind of talent to do it both ways, and it's great to watch," Angels second baseman Zack Cozart said. "It didn't look like (the A's) had a chance up there, the way he was throwing."
Teammate Ian Kinsler snickered while Cozart added: "People thought he should be in the minor leagues, apparently, to start the year."
Mike Trout and Ryan Schimpf homered, and Albert Pujols had an RBI double in the Angels' seventh win in nine games.
Kendall Graveman (0-2) gave up five hits and four walks while failing to get out of the fourth inning for the A's, who have lost seven of 10. Matt Joyce homered in the ninth.
Trout scored his 700th run in the first inning on Pujols' double down the left-field line. Trout joined a club of nine players in baseball history, including Pujols, who had 200 homers and 700 runs scored before their age-27 season.
Trout hit a long homer over the ficus trees in center field in the third inning, snapping an 0-for-15 skid on Los Angeles' homestand. The two-time AL MVP added a bloop RBI single in the fourth to chase Graveman.
Athletics: Oakland put OF Boog Powell on the 10-day DL with a right knee sprain in a move retroactive to Saturday. Mark Canha was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. Powell will return to Oakland for an MRI on Monday. He was injured Friday, when he crashed into the wall and later got his spikes stuck in the dirt while running the bases.
Angels: Los Angeles put a starting pitcher on the DL for the third time this season, leaving the club with three starters and 10 relievers on its 25-man roster. J.C. Ramirez went on the 10-day list with a right elbow strain after lasting just two innings and walking five A's in his loss Saturday.
Athletics: After a day off in Los Angeles, Sean Manaea (0-1, 1.15 ERA) takes the mound at Dodger Stadium to open a two-game interleague series. He threw eight innings of stellar one-run ball against Texas in his last start.
Angels: Garrett Richards (1-0, 5.06 ERA) takes the mound Monday when Los Angeles opens a road trip against the Texas Rangers. The long-injured righty hasn't pitched against the Angels' AL West rivals in Arlington since May 1, 2016.

Sick Bellinger helps Dodgers beat Giants 2-1 in 10 innings

A bad plate of sushi or room service left Cody Bellinger weakened enough that he was held out of the starting lineup. Bellinger managed to summon enough strength to spark a key rally when the slumping Los Angeles Dodgers needed him most.
Bellinger overcame a bout of food poisoning to score the go-ahead run on Kyle Farmer's pinch-hit double in the 10th inning, and the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1 on Sunday to snap a four-game losing streak.
"I tried to use him sparingly," manager Dave Roberts said. "It was the right time for him and he mustered up enough energy to leg that double. That was good to see."
Bellinger entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth and started the winning rally with an opposite-field double to lead off the 10th against Pierce Johnson (0-1).
With two outs and runners on first and second, Farmer hit a drive over right fielder Andrew McCutchen's head to score Bellinger with the go-ahead run that gave the Dodgers a split of a rain-shortened two-game series. Farmer has three RBIs in 31 career at-bats, with the other two coming on an 11th inning double last July to beat the Giants.
"I just keep finding myself in these situations," Farmer said. "I sit on the bench all day just watching and saw how the guys were fighting all game."
Josh Fields (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win and Kenley Jansen struck out three batters in the 10th for his first save of the season. Jansen got pinch-hitter Brandon Belt looking to end the game with Hunter Pence on second base.
"Tough call at the end, it's a ball, but that's the way the game goes sometimes," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "The call goes against you, the ball doesn't bounce your way. But it certainly was not a strike."
Clayton Kershaw was sharp through seven scoreless innings and appeared to be headed to his first win of the season for Los Angeles before running into trouble in the eighth. Pence started the rally with a leadoff single and Kelby Tomlinson followed with a perfectly placed bunt single that ended Kershaw's day after 92 pitches.
Buster Posey, who was held out of the lineup after catching 14 innings Saturday, entered as a pinch hitter and tied the game with a single off JT Chargois.
Los Angeles escaped the inning with no further damage, but Kershaw ended up with a no-decision. He has received just two runs of support in three starts this season.
The Dodgers squandered a prime scoring chance in the second when Austin Barnes hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded, but broke through against Ty Blach two innings later when Matt Kemp drove in Yasiel Puig from second with a soft single to right.
Blach avoided further damage by getting Logan Forsythe to hit into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and third.
The Giants threatened in the sixth with back-to-back, one-out singles from pinch-hitter Gorkys Hernandez and Austin Jackson. Joe Panik followed with a sinking line drive to right field that Puig caught on his knees. Hernandez ran on the play either because he lost track of the outs or thought the ball was going to fall. Instead, he was easily doubled off second for the final out of the inning.
Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood also is dealing with food poisoning and had his next start pushed back a day to Wednesday, with Hyun-Jin Ryu moved up a day to Tuesday against Oakland.
Kershaw wasn't impressed with himself despite allowing just one run and six hits in seven-plus innings. He credited his defense for his success, including good plays by Puig, Barnes at second base and left fielder Joc Pederson.
"I got a lot of lineouts," he said. "I needed a few guys to bail me out today. That's awesome. It's a team game. But there's definitely some things I could have done a little better."
Dodgers: Los Angeles opens a two-game series at home against Oakland on Tuesday with Ryu (0-0) taking on Sean Manaea (1-1).
Giants: San Francisco opens a three-game home series against Arizona with Derek Holland (0-1) getting the start against Zack Godley (1-0).

Orlando City SC 3, Portland Timbers 2 | 2018 MLS Match Recap

Orlando City's run of late heroics continued on Sunday afternoon as Dom Dwyer's 87th minute strike capped a ferocious 3-2 comeback win for the Lions, who trailed the Portland Timbers by two goals as late as the 80th minute.
The drama didn't start with Orlando's comeback, though. The first major talking point of the game came in the the 16th minute as Portland midfielder Sebastian Blanco was initially shown his second yellow card for a dive after going down under pressure from Orlando's Mohamed El-Munir in the penalty area. The play was reviewed for a potential penalty kick, which was subsequently awarded by referee Baldomero Toledo and converted by Diego Valeri, while Blanco was granted a reprieve.
The Timbers hit the woodwork twice in the opening four minutes of the second half and looked to be cruising following Bill Tuiloma's first MLS goal, off a Valeri free kick not long after. However, Orlando grabbed one back in the 80th minute as rookie Chris Mueller headed in a first MLS goal of his own and found themselves level just two minutes later after Sacha Kljestan converted a penalty kick drawn by Dwyer.
Just eight minutes after his team was down by two goals, Dwyer netted a second game-winning goal in as many games, keeping his balance in the area before turning and slotting past Jake Gleeson with his weaker right foot to cap a strong individual effort.

Sean Newcomb dazzles, Braves beat Rockies 4-0

The surprising Atlanta Braves surged behind their bats through the first week of the season. Now, they're getting some nice starting pitching, too.
Sean Newcomb pitched into the seventh inning, Nick Markakis and Dansby Swanson hit back-to-back homers and the Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 4-0 on Sunday.
"Every day it's someone new that's contributing," Newcomb said.
It was his turn in Denver.
Newcomb (1-1) allowed three hits in the first inning before retiring the next 16 batters to help the Braves take two of three in Colorado's home-opening series. The left-hander followed strong starts from Brandon McCarthy and Anibal Sanchez, tying his career high with nine strikeouts while not issuing a walk.
"He was locating the fastball and he had a devastating changeup and he mixed in his curveball," Colorado manager Bud Black said. "So, when you're throwing 93, 94 mph, and you come from a high arm slot at 6-foot-5, he's got a great angle. The changeup is coming in there at 85, 86 mph, with some action to it, it's tough to solve. And we just didn't do it today."
Newcomb left after allowing consecutive hits to Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story to begin the seventh. Shane Carle, Sam Freeman and Arodys Vizcaino pitched in relief to preserve the shutout.
Kyle Freeland (0-2) allowed three runs, stuck out five and walked two in six innings for the Rockies. The Denver native had one out in the sixth before giving up deep balls to Markakis and Swanson that made it 3-0.
An inning earlier, Ozzie Albies had an RBI double off Freeland. He then homered off Chris Rusin in the seventh to put Atlanta up 4-0.
The Braves have scored 62 runs through their first nine games of the year. Colorado, meanwhile, scored only six runs in the series and was shut out at home for the first time since May 27, 2017, against St. Louis.
The Rockies had a runner in scoring position in the eighth, but third baseman Charlie Culberson helped thwart the threat with a catch that took him over the rolled-up tarp and into the stands.
"I'm not worried about it," second baseman DJ LeMahieu said. "We'll get on a roll."
Colorado fill-in centerfielder Mike Tauchman did his best to help out Freeland in the sixth, jumping into the wall as he tried to pull back Markakis' shot. The crash, however, knocked Tauchman on his back and catapulted his glove over the wall.
There was some momentary confusion afterward.
"I didn't know what happened," Markakis said. "I didn't know if he caught it or what happened. I looked at the umpire and I saw him signaling, so I knew it was good."
The centerfield gate had to be opened to return Tauchman's glove.
Albies, who roped a ground-rule double and his third homer of the season, provides more power than his 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame would have one believe.
"I would probably say he and (Astros second baseman Jose) Altuve are probably pound-for-pound, might be the two strongest guys in the major leagues," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "He's not tall but he's strong, big."
Newcomb became the third starting pitcher to toss at least six scoreless innings with no walks and at least nine strikeouts at Coors Field. Jon Gray and Hall of Famer Randy Johnson are the only other two to accomplish the feat.
Braves: 3B Johan Camargo (oblique) is expected to continue his rehab assignment through Wednesday and could be back by next weekend's series with the Chicago Cubs.
Rockies: OF Charlie Blackmon, who left Saturday's game in the 10th inning, was out of the starting lineup with back stiffness. "Charlie will be fine," Black said. "A day-to-day situation." ... RHP Jeff Hoffman (shoulder) threw a bullpen session Sunday and is expected to pitch for Class A Advanced Lancaster on Tuesday.
Braves: Julio Teheran (0-0, 10.13 ERA) faces the Washington Nationals and three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer on Monday.
Rockies: On Monday, Jon Gray (1-1, 2.45) will face the San Diego Padres for a second straight start after tossing seven shutout innings against them five days ago.

Blue Jays homer twice off Hamels in 1st, beat Rangers 7-4

Steve Pearce didn't want to wait around for Cole Hamels' confounding changeup.
So Toronto's leadoff hitter took a big swing at the first pitch he saw: a high fastball in just about a perfect spot for a hitter.
Pearce homered on the first pitch of the game, Kendrys Morales added a three-run shot in the first inning and the Blue Jays beat the Rangers 7-4 on Sunday.
"Just ready to hit, ready to attack him early," Pearce said of his first career leadoff homer . "That was the game plan. You don't want to wait around and let him bury you with that changeup. He's got some good stuff."
Jaime Garcia (1-0) won while facing Texas for the first time in the 31-year-old's 176th career start. The left-hander allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings, leaving after Joey Gallo's two-run homer. The 445-foot shot down the line in right was the Texas slugger's third of the season.
After becoming the first Texas pitcher to get the first eight outs on strikeouts in a win at Oakland in his previous start, Hamels (1-2) let four of the first five hitters reach in the left-hander's second straight home loss. The first was on opening day.
Hamels, who started 9-1 each of the past two seasons, gave up seven runs - five earned - and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings with two walks and five strikeouts. He struck out 11 in five innings against the Athletics.
Pearce's drive soared well above the 14-foot wall in left field, just inside the foul pole. After Josh Donaldson struck out, Justin Smoak and Yangervis Solarte singled. Morales' liner to the opposite field went into the Texas bullpen in right-center for the switch-hitter's first of the season.
"Something where you just have to be able to execute early," Hamels said. "The first game of the season, very similar situation. So I think that's going to be a lot more of my focus, as we go out, is really trying to execute from the very first pitch."
With the bases loaded and the Blue Jays leading 7-3 in the seventh, Ryan Tepera struck out Adrian Beltre and got Gallo on an inning-ending popout .
Robert Osuna retired four straight for his fourth save after hitting Rougned Odor with a pitch to load the bases in the eighth.
"We had to burn through our bullpen pretty good," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "You never like to do that this time of year so you won't see that often probably. But he shut it down."
Texas' Bartolo Colon struck out four straight during two scoreless innings in his first relief appearance since 2016 with the New York Mets. The 44-year-old right-hander started the fifth game for the Rangers before Martin Perez came off the disabled list to join the rotation.
It was the 10th relief appearance compared to 529 starts for Colon, who is in his 21st season.
"He's a valuable part of what we're doing, whether it's in the bullpen or the starting rotation," manager Jeff Banister said. "We'll continue to look at it daily."
Solarte walked twice to give him six in the three-game series. He reached in all four plate appearances Sunday, including a pair of singles, and nine out of 12 times in the series.
Beltre's double in the sixth inning was his 1,117th extra-base hit, tying him with Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx for 18th on the career list. ... The other run-scoring hits for Toronto were singles from Curtis Granderson and Kevin Pillar and a double by Luke Maile. ... Odor was the designated hitter after his girlfriend gave birth to their daughter early Sunday morning. He was 1 for 3 with a double. ... Texas rookie Carlos Tocci singled in the seventh for his first major league hit.
Rangers: RHP Tony Barnette (back) was not activated two days after throwing on consecutive nights on a minor league rehab assignment. Banister said the club was still monitoring his recovery coming off those appearances.
Blue Jays: Opening-day starter J.A. Happ (1-1, 5.40 ERA) makes his third start Monday in the opener of a three-game series at Baltimore.
Rangers: RHP Doug Fister (1-1, 3.12 ERA) makes his third start for Texas in the opener of a three-game series Monday against the visiting Los Angeles Angels. Fister is 3-4 with a 2.90 ERA in his career against the Angels.


After three days of record attendance at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, reigning PBR (Professional Bull Riders) World Champion Jess Lockwood (Volborg, Montana) collected his first PBR elite series win of the 2018 season at The 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast, First PREMIER Bank/PREMIER Bankcard Invitational.
Lockwood went 3-for-4 over the weekend and won with an impressive 91-point ride on Big Dutch (Jane Clark / Gene Owen) in the championship round. The Montana cowboy earned 760 world points in the victory, moving him from No. 13 in the world to No. 7, and collected a paycheck of $41,830.
The win, Lockwood’s first since September of last year, also earned him a spot at the Days of 47 Cowboy Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Komatsu Equipment Days of ’47 Cowboy Games & Rodeo presented by Zions Bank, July 19-21 and 23-24, will take place at the $17.5 million state-of-the-art Days of ’47 Arena at the Utah State Fair Park, custom designed and built for rodeo. The venue, an outdoor arena located in the heart of Salt Lake City, features more than 10,000 stadium-style seats.
Lockwood is now 215 points behind world leader Ramon de Lima (Sao Paulo, Brazil).
“I feel good and I’m riding good so I can’t ask for much more right now,” Lockwood said. “Everything’s going great. I got some good luck charms with me here this weekend and my family, and you couldn’t ask for a better weekend.”
“He’s got that fire back,” said PBR on CBS commentator JW Hart. “You can see it in his eyes, you can see it in the step he takes when he gets off. He’s happy and ready to go back at them.”
2017 PBR Rookie of the Year Jose Vitor Leme (Ribas do Rio Pardo, Brazil) finished second also with a 3-for-4 performance, including 89 points aboard Siouxper Stinger (Berger Bucking Bulls) in the championship round. For his efforts, Leme earned 415 points toward the world standings and $21,080. Leme advanced from No. 7 to No. 3 in the world standings and trails Lima by a mere 60 points.
Cooper Davis (Jasper, Texas), who entered the weekend at No. 9 in the world standings, secured a third-place finish after going 2-for-4 in the Denny Sanford Arena. The 2016 world champion covered Ocean Wave (H Bucking Bulls/Little Acres Ranch) for 84.5-points in Round 3 on Sunday but was bucked off Bad Beagle (Phenom Genetics / Rothe) in the championship round. He earned 235 points toward the world standings along with $12,830. Davis is now No. 10 in the world. The Top 10 bull riders are separated by a mere 615 points in an extremely tight 2018 world championship race.
After climbing to the top of the leaderboard during Round 3 on Sunday, Kaique Pacheco (Itatiba, Brazil) went 3-for-4 when he was bucked off Shelley’s Gangster (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Shelley Cadzow) for the last ride of the night. Despite the fall in the final round, the young Brazilian took home a fourth-place finish and moved from No. 14 in the world standings to No. 11. Earlier in the day he covered Element 79(Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/Heald Pro Bulls) for 83 points in Round 3. He picked up 225 world points and a $7,150 paycheck.
Rounding out the Top 5 was Brennon Eldred (Sulphur, Oklahoma), despite being bucked off of Losing My Religion (Broken Arrow Bucking Bulls) in the championship round and Milky Jones (Phenom Genetics/ JCL Bucking Bulls/Waller Brothers Cattle Co.) in Round 3. Eldred took home 127.5 world points and $7,060. He leaves Sioux Falls at No. 14 in the world standings after starting the weekend in the No. 19 spot.
The YETI “Built for the Wild” Bull of the Event was Pearl Harbor (Dakota Rodeo/Chad Berger/Clay Struve/ H&C Bucking Bulls who exploded from the chute and dispatched two-time world champion J.B. Mauney (Statesville, North Carolina) after just 2.17 seconds, earning a massive bull score of 47.  
The Top 35 bull riders in the world will now head to Tacoma, Washington, for the Tacoma Invitational presented by Cooper Tires at the Tacoma Dome April 14-15.  
25th PBR: Unleash The Beast - FIRST PREMIER BANK/PREMIER BANKCARD INVITATIONALDenny Sanford PREMIER Center - Sioux Falls, SDEvent Leaders (Round 1-Round 2-Round 3-Round 4-Event Aggregate-Event
1. Jess Lockwood, 87.75-0-88-91-266.75-760 Points.
2. Jose Vitor Leme, 89-0-83.25-89-261.25-415 Points.
3. Cooper Davis, 0-90.25-84.5-0-174.75-235 Points.
4. Kaique Pacheco, 86.25-84.75-83-0-254.00-225 Points.
5. Brennon Eldred, 85.25-89-0-0-174.25-127.5 Points.
6. Eduardo Aparecido, 0-87-0-86.75-173.75-111.66 Points.
7. Claudio Montanha Jr., 0-88.5-85-0-173.50-110 Points.
8. Valdiron de Oliveira, 0-84.75-85.75-0-170.50-70 Points.
9. Nathan Burtenshaw, 86.75-0-0-0-86.75-55 Points.
10. Stetson Lawrence, 0-0-85.5-0-85.50-52.5 Points.
11. Dakota Buttar, 0-87.5-0-0-87.50-50 Points.
12. Emilio Resende, 85.75-0-0-0-85.75-35 Points.
13. Silvano Alves, 0-87-0-0-87.00-21.66 Points.
(tie). J.B. Mauney, 0-87-0-0-87.00-21.66 Points.
15. Fabiano Vieira, 85.5-0-0-0-85.50-17.5 Points.
(tie). Lucas Divino, 85.25-85.5-0-0-170.75-17.5 Points.
17. Ramon de Lima, 84.75-0-0-0-84.75
18. Keyshawn Whitehorse, 82.75-0-0-0-82.75
(tie). Juan Carlos Contreras, 0-82.75-0-0-82.75
20. Cody Nance, 0-0-82.5-0-82.50
Tanner Byrne, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Marco Antonio Eguchi, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Joao Ricardo Vieira, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Alex Marcilio, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Tye Chandler, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Brady Oleson, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Cody Campbell, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Colten Jesse, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Paulo Ferreira Lima, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Lindomar Lino, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Wallace Vieira de Oliveira, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Ueberson Duarte, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Rubens Barbosa, 0-0-0-0-0.00
Stormy Wing, 0-0-0-0-0.00


Here are three things we learned from the First PREMIER Bank PREMIER Bankcard Invitational this weekend at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
Pearl Harbor marked 47 points; Mauney injured
History did not repeat itself in Sioux Falls when titans J.B. Mauney and Pearl Harbor matched up in the championship round.
Two years after Mauney made a memorable 94.25 points on the back of Pearl Harbor inside the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, it was Pearl Harbor launching the two-time World Champion to the dirt in 2.17 seconds.
Pearl Harbor was marked 47 points, while Mauney had to be attended to by the PBR Sports Medicine Team after landing on his shoulders and folding over.
Mauney was diagnosed by Dr. Tandy Freeman with a back injury and was transported to a local hospital to undergo further evaluation and a CT scan.
Chad Berger was thrilled with his bull’s performance, but he certainly was not happy to see Mauney go down.
“I would have loved to see him ride him for 95 points,” Berger said. “I still think he is the greatest bull rider that ever lived and I hope everything is OK and we will see him back soon.”
Pearl Harbor’s second consecutive 47-plus out has him right on the cusp of surpassing two-time World CHampion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser for the No. 1 ranking.
Pearl Harbor raised his World Champion Bull average to 45.94. He is .03 points behind Bruiser (45.97).
“He was really rank, strong, powerful and kicked over his head,” Berger said. “He finally got his head clear without hanging it in the gate. He busted out of there so strong and hard that if we can get him to do that every time then he is going to jerk them so hard that first jump that it is going to be hard for them to ride him.”
Mauney selected Pearl Harbor with the 12th pick of the championship round draft and his motor was revving for the matchup from the word go.
The 31-year-old was jokingly taunting Berger behind the bucking chutes and had an eye of confidence before the gate opened.
“He was over there licking his chops toward me, and he knew it was going to come down to him,” Berger said. “He was excited to have a shot at him. Hell, I was excited. There is no guy in the world I rather have on my bull than J.B. Mauney. He don’t fart around. He nods his head. It was a great opportunity for both of us and Pearl Harbor came out on top today.”
Mauney is now 1-3 against Pearl Harbor, but Berger says that once Mauney he is healthy you can expect another showdown.
“When J.B. is 100 percent, he can ride any bull here, including Pearl Harbor,” Berger said. “Never count him out.”
Lockwood wins first event of 2018
Jess Lockwood began his final push at the 2017 World Championship aboard Big Dutch at the 2017 World Finals, and he may have begun his true climb at defending his world title in 2018 aboard Gene Owen and Jane Clark’s bovine athlete.
Lockwood rode Big Dutch for 91 points on Sunday afternoon and then looked on as Kaique Pacheco bucked off Shelley’s Gangster in 4.18 seconds to win his first 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast event of the year.
“I knew he was going to be bad in the chutes,” Lockwood said. “Shoot, really the hardest part of him is getting out on him because God it takes forever. It started to piss me off.
“Once we went, I was behind and I was throwing hail marys.”
The 20-year-old went 3-for-4 in Sioux Falls, winning both rounds on Sunday afternoon, to surge to seventh in the world standings by earning 760 world points.
“Cody Lambert and I were talking down there in Bowie the last three weeks that no one has done much (this year),” Lockwood said. “He said it is time for me to stop screwing around and letting everyone else win. This is my title to win. Not that it kick started me, but it reminded me to get my ass in gear and be more clutch.”
Lockwood is only 215 points behind world leader Ramon de Lima in an extremely tight title race.
Jose Vitor Leme’s second-place finish (3-for-4, 415 world points) has the 21-year-old up to third in the world standings. He trails Lima by 60 world points.
Meanwhile, the Top 8 riders in the world standings are separated by less than 275 points.
Rounding out the Top 5 was Cooper Davis (2-for-4, 235 world points), Pacheco and Brennon Eldred (2-for-4, 127.5 world points).
Lockwood, though, is heating up after missing the Ak-Chin Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, in Glendale, Arizona, because of a hand injury.
Lockwood had placed second in Round 1 with 87.75 points on Smoke Signals bounced back from his Round 2 buckoff against I Always Stand (7.57 seconds) Saturday night in dominant fashion on Sunday.
He won Round 3 with 88 points on Hangman and then selected Big Dutch with the second pick of the draft.
“Ever since the beginning of the year, I haven’t made the most of each one,” Lockwood said. “He is a good little bull and was whirling up. I wanted to spur on him, but I felt like I would buck off if I did.”   
Pacheco’s streak comes to an end, but he feels he is back
Even though Pacheco was unable to win his first event of the year, the 23-year-old believes he finally has gotten things back on track.
Pacheco finished 3-for-4 in Sioux Falls and saw his streak of seven consecutive rides come to an end.
Still, his seven rides in two events is a huge improvement from his 7-for-27 run during the season’s first 11 events.
“I am happy to ride my bulls,” Pacheco said before the championship round. “I feel good and feel I am making the same (rides) like all of the years. I am keeping my focus the same.”
Pacheco rode Red Sails In The Sunset (86.75 points), Line Me Up (84.75 points) and Element 79 (83 points).
When asked if he finally feels like he did before his 2017 injury woes, Pacheco responded with a firm, “Yup.”
If Pacheco believes he is truly healthy and back to his prior form, it may be only one more week before he is back in the Top 10.
Pacheco heads into next weekend’s Tacoma Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, ranked 11th in the world standings.
Injury Updates
Fabiano Vieira was unable to compete in the championship round because of a bruised knee trying to get out of the chute aboard Acting Crazy.
Brady Oleson did not compete in Round 3 in Sioux Falls after spraining his right wrist (riding hand, TFCC) and dislocating his left shoulder when he was bucked off by Acting Crazy (3.25 seconds) in Round 2 on Saturday.
Oleson said he will likely need to get shoulder surgery, which would put him out of competition for six months.
Behind the Chutes: Sioux Falls Round 2 (4-7-18)
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Here are three things we learned from Round 2 of the First PREMIER Bank PREMIER Bankcard Invitational Saturday night at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
Buttar and Byrne ride with heavy hearts
Dakota Buttar finished Round 2 in fourth place with his 87.5-point ride on Clover Mountain Beau, but the 25-year-old’s thoughts were with his native country north of the border.
Buttar lives only 3.5 hours from Tisdale, Saskatchewan, which was the sight of the tragic Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus crash on Friday night that has left 15 dead.
The hockey community, as well as all of Canada and most of the world, has been left saddened and in mourning after the bus carrying a team of 29 players, ranging in age from 16 to 21 years old, and coaches was struck by a semi-trailer as the team was on its way to Nipawin for a playoff game. Fourteen people were also injured.
“It is pretty sad that many young kids have been killed,” Buttar, who played minor hockey until he was 18, said. “It has been hard to go on social media and see that. Everyone is talking about it. So many young lives that had bright futures ahead of them.”
Tanner Byrne, who was bucked off by Rebound in 5.97 seconds, posted his support on his social media accounts late on Friday night and on Saturday afternoon.
Byrne said before Round 2 that he doesn’t believe he knows anyone directly on the team, but that the crash certainly strikes a chord to him as he grew up playing hockey in Saskatchewan and traveling to hockey games on similar buses.
“It is terrible man,” Byrne said. “The accident was just outside of Tisdale, which is an hour-and-a-half from my house. Growing up being a hockey player, and playing developmental hockey, we were in those buses all the time. Anyone from Saskatchewan or Canada that is a hockey player knows most of your hours are spent on that bus.”
The crash reminded him of the one that his friend and former NHL hockey player and PBR supporter Sheldon Kennedy was a part of on Dec. 30, 1986, that took the lives of four players from the Swift Current Broncos.
This weekend was also was another harsh reminder to Byrne how quickly a life can be taken away from someone.
“To hear news like that is an utter tragedy,” Byrne said. “Those kids were 16 to 20 years old and had their whole futures ahead of them. It was cut down. It makes you realize anything can happen and to hold your loved ones close. You never know what can happen in life and that is evidence of it.
“I can’t imagine what the families and everyone is going through up there. It is brutal. A brutal accident.”
Davis wins Round 2 with first 90-point ride in 83 days
It had been 83 days since 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis surpassed the 90-point threshold. He had also only posted one qualified ride on the 25thPBR: Unleash The Beast during that same timeframe.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise to see Davis let out a sigh of relief as he pumped his fist into the air following a sensational 90.25-point ride on Nailedto win Round 2.  
“It is night and day compared to what it has been,” Davis said. “It has been zero. To be 90 on my first ride back, man it feels good.”
Davis nearly lost his bull rope leaving the bucking chute and had to regain position in the opening 2 seconds.
“I was kind of fighting to get back to the middle the whole time and I figured while I was doing that i would go ahead and throw my leg up in the air,” Davis said. “I don’t know. It felt really good.”
Davis earned 100 points for the round win and the No. 9 ranked bull rider trails world leader Ramon de Lima by 750 points heading into Round 3.
The Jasper, Texas, bull rider has drawn Wild Side (4-1, PBR UTB) for championship Sunday. Wild Side bucked off Colten Jesse in 4.34 seconds in Round 1.
Davis could have easily been in the event lead if not for his 7.6-second buckoff against Fire & Smoke
“Naturally, I would like to make the whistle,” Davis said. “But I felt good and that was something I hadn’t felt in a while. Feeling good is the main thing. Being confident in myself, I can’t take it as a loss.”
Another rider that let out a sigh of relief was Claudio Montanha Jr.
The No. 3 bull rider in the world standings rode Stunt Man Ray for 88.5 points and 50 world points.
Montanha is only 154.17 points behind Lima in the world standings and will face Sitting Bull (3-2, PBR UTB) in Round 3. Sitting Bull bucked off Stormy Wing in 4.82 seconds in Round 1.
Eldred leading heading into championship Sunday
Davis is chasing Brennon Eldred in the event standings as Eldred continues to prove this weekend that his partially torn MCL in his right knee won’t slow his mojo.
Eldred finished second in the round and is leading the event average after riding Twinkle Toes for 89 points.
“That bull is kind of tricky,” Eldred said. “He is kind of tricky and hops, skips in the front and tries to get you down. Man, that felt really good.”
The 23-year-old began his weekend with 85.25 points on Embers in Round 1.
Kaique Pacheco (2-for-2, 171 points) and Lucas Divino (2-for-2, 170.75 points) are the only other two riders perfect in Sioux Falls.
Pacheco has ridden six consecutive bulls after riding Line Me Up for 84.75 points in Round 2.
Rounding out the Top 5 in Round 2 behind Davis, Eldred, Montanha and Buttar was a trio of PBR veterans. Eduardo Aparecido (87 points on Cooper’s Comet), Silvano Alves (87 points on Catfish John) and J.B. Mauney (87 points on Rocket Man) each picked up 16.66 world points.
Eldred, though, is the man to beat heading into Championship Sunday.
He earned 60 points toward the world standings on Saturday and his first event win Sunday would potentially push him inside the Top 10.
Eldred has ridden six of his last eight bulls and has drawn Milky Jones (19-5, PBR UTB) for Round 3.
“I am tired of waiting on that gold buckle,” Eldred concluded. “It is not going to come and get me, so I guess I better go get it. I am tired of saying, ‘Oh, I will get it next year. Oh I will get it next year.’”
Injury Updates
Emilio Resende did not compete in Round 2 and is out for the remainder of the weekend because of his dislocated left shoulder from Round 1.
Matador Jerky bullfighter Shorty Gorham’s X-rays on his right foot came back negative and showed no fracture. Gorham is out for the remainder of Sioux Falls, but he hopes to return for next weekend’s Tacoma Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
Behind the Chutes: Sioux Falls Round 1 (4-6-18)
 Here are three things we learned from Round 1 of the First PREMIER Bank PREMIER Bankcard Invitational Friday night at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
Lockwood returns with second-place finish in Round 1
It was a night of multitude of successes for reigning World Champion Jess Lockwood.
Not only did the 20-year-old feel little to no pain during his 87.75-point ride on Smoke Signals, but he also successfully landed on his feet with his get-off and walked away unscathed and a second-place finish in the round.
“I felt awesome, and, shoot, I even landed on my feet,” Lockwood said. “That is a rare sighting for me. If you land on your feet that is going to prevent injuries for everything.”
The third-year pro earned 60 points toward the world standings in Round 1 to move up to 11th in the world standings.
“I knew that bull was going to be good, but second jump out I was like, ‘Holy crap he is going right,’ and he swapped it back around the left hard. Then I was like, ‘Alright, give it to him.’
“I ride better when I spur bulls, and I let him have it.”
Lockwood had missed the Ak-Chin Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires, two weeks ago because of a bone bruise and sprained ligaments in his riding hand.
“I am excited my hand didn’t hurt,” Lockwood said. “On Wednesday, my ring finger and middle finger started cramping, and Dave (Edwards of PBR Sports Medicine) told me that is good because that means the other part is healed. My muscles had been compensating for the other one being hurt for so long. Now that the other one is feeling good, I can feel I was compensating and it was like I over-worked the others and it was cramping.”
Lockwood made his PBR premier series debut in Sioux Falls three years ago with a seventh-place showing.
So far he is off to a good start this weekend in front of the Lockwood-friendly crowd at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
Lockwood will face I Always Stand (37-7, PBR UTB) in Round 2 on Saturday night. Fans can watch Round 2 exclusively on RidePass beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
It is a great matchup for Lockwood, who rode I Always Stand for 92 points in Bismarck, North Dakota, during summer of 2016 Velocity Tour event.
“Heck, any event is awesome to win,” Lockwood said. “But it makes a difference when you are up north when family can come. I have my dad, my mom and my new girlfriend here. I just feel great.”
Leme continues to rack up round wins
Jose Vitor Leme’s mental clock went off around 3-4 seconds on Friday night, and once that happened he knew it was time to really turn things up a notch.
Leme got aggressive and churned out a round-winning 89 points aboard Red Bandana to win himself a PBR-best seventh round win of 2018.
“For sure, it is great when you feel like at about 2-3-4 seconds you have the ride and you have a good seat,” Leme said with the help of Paulo Crimber translating. “I really try to do something different just to create more points. It is really good when you feel that way. You know it is already over and are just having fun.”
Leme has been almost dominant when bull’s turn into his left riding hand. Once Red Bandana did that Friday night, it was lights out.
The Ribas Do Rio Pardo, Brazil, bull rider has ridden seven of his last 10 bulls with four round wins.
Leme earned 100 world points with his ride on Red Bandana and now trails world leader Ramon de Lima by 375 points.
Lima is sitting in ninth place in Sioux Falls after riding Check Mate for 84.75 points in Round 1.
The 27-year-old takes on Moto Moto (20-7, PBR UTB) in Round 2, while Leme will look to continue his march to the top of the standings when he faces Stretch (2-1, PBR UTB).
Burtenshaw rolling on full cylinders
Team Australia coach Troy Dunn has yet to announce his roster for the upcoming Global Cup in Sydney, Australia, but it will be no surprise when Nathan Burtenshaw is named to the team.
The highest-ranking Australian bull rider in the world continued to roll on Friday by riding Aristokat for 86.75 points.
“That was a little bull away from my hand,” Burtenshaw said. “Usually I ride better away from my hand, but I don’t know. I think I am just starting to settling in a little bit. I am not getting freaking worried about anything.”
Burtenshaw has now ridden four consecutive bulls dating back to his career-best, 3-for-3 third-place finish two weeks ago in Glendale, Arizona.
He has earned 320 points toward the world standings with those four rides to move from 36th in the world standings to 23rd.
The 23-year-old has also put together his best run to date on the premier series despite a left groin injury.
“It is sore now, but it is getting better slowly,” Burtenshaw said. “I have been doing therapy on it with an ultrasound twice a week.”
Burtenshaw is slated to face Livin’ Large in Round 2.
It will be a rematch between the two athletes after Livin Large knocked Burtenshaw out after the 8-second whistle three weeks ago at the Ty Murray Invitational. It appeared as if Burtenshaw had made a great bull ride, but an instant replay review of the ride showed Burtenshaw to have slapped the bull when he was leaving the bucking chutes.
Rounding out the Top 5 behind Leme, Lockwood, Burtenshaw was Kaique Pacheco (86.25 points on Red Sails in The Sunset) and Emilio Resende(85.75 points on Chute Boss)
Injury Updates
Resende will likely be unable to compete on Saturday night after dislocating his left shoulder during his ride on Chute Boss. The 30-year-old is doubtful for Round 2 according to Dr. Tandy Freeman.
In other injury news, Matador Jerky Bullfighter Shorty Gorham may have sustained a broken right foot after being stepped on by Sarah’s Terror. Gorham is out for the remainder of the weekend and will need to get X-rays to determine the extent of his injuries.
Sioux Falls draw: Eldred looks to pick up where he left off (4-4-18)
Brennon Eldred went from being 8 seconds away from winning his first career premier series event three weeks ago in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to being sent home with a partially torn MCL in his right knee.
Eldred now hopes to regain the momentum he lost from bucking off two-time World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Bruiser when he returns to competition Friday at the First Premier Bank Premier Bankcard Invitational in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“It is not 100 percent, but it feels better,” Eldred said. “I have been riding the bike and stuff. The way it is progressing, by the end of the week it will feel pretty good.”
The No. 19 ranked bull rider in the world had ridden his first three bulls at the Ty Murray Invitational in impressive fashion before bucking off Bruiser. Eldred had ridden White Omega (87.75 points), Mac’s Barbeque (88.25 points) and Chocolate Shake (86.75 points) before selecting Bruiser with the top selection of the championship-round draft.
Eldred, who was recently named to Team USA, had entered the event 6-for-23 on the 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast after struggling with a torn groin from the 2017 Global Cup event in Edmonton.
The 23-year-old admitted it was frustrating to have to sit out a week after finally feeling like he was healthy again.
“It sucked for sure,” Eldred said. “Coming off the groin injury at the first of the year, and finally getting over that and finally starting to feel good. It is not the first time I have been hurt. I definitely know how it goes and what can happen. It is just part of it.”
Eldred had surgery on his right knee four years ago to repair a torn ACL and meniscus.
The Sulphur, Oklahoma, native is slated to face Embers (0-1, PBR UTB) in Round 1 on Friday night at the Denny Sanford Premier Center. Fans can watch the event exclusively on RidePass beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Also returning from injury in Sioux Falls is World Champions Cooper Davisand Jess Lockwood, as well as Emilio Resende and Stormy Wing.
Wing is down to his final guaranteed event on the premier series before being relegated to the PBR’s developmental tours.
The eight-time PBR World Finals qualifier needs to pick up 245 world points to crack the Top 35. He is 0-for-15 on the premier series and has missed the last two events.
There are eight additional alternates also trying to earn full-time spots on tour – No. 38 Cody Campbell (-26.67 points behind No. 35 Juan Carlos Contreras), No. 39 Colten Jesse (-30 points), No. 40 Paulo Lima (-44.17 points), No. 41 Lindomar Lino (-55 points), No. 42 Wallace de Oliveira(-57.5 points), No. 43 Ueberson Duarte (-77.5 points) and No. 44 Rubens Barbosa (-88.34 points).  
Contreras is holding onto that No. 35 ranking with 285 world points. He has drawn Heat Wave (6-0, PBR UTB) for Friday night.
Still out of competition because of injuries or personal decision is No. 2 Luciano de Castro (torn right MCL), No. 6 Dener Barbosa (broken right foot), No. 8 Cody Teel (broken left ankle) No. 10 Ryan Dirteater (torn right meniscus), No. 11 Derek Kolbaba (torn right ACL/MCL), No. 12 Guilherme Marchi (fractured sternum/broken rib/right sternoclavicular sprain), No. 16 Gage Gay (right reconstructive knee surgery) and No. 28 Fraser Babbington (ineligible).
World leader Ramon de Lima will try to break out of his 3-for-11 slump when he squares off vs. Check Mate (0-0, PBR UTB) in Round 1.
Check Mate is making his PBR debut after going 13-0 on the rodeo trail. He bucked off four-time PRCA champion Sage Kimzey at the NFR last year in 3.4 seconds.
Chad Berger’s bovine athlete was marked 47.5 points, according to ProBullstats, at the San Angelo, Texas, rodeo last month for disposing of Cody Rostockyj.
World No. 2 Bull Pearl Harbor is slated to compete in the championship round, while 2017 World Champion Bull contender TLW’s Big Cat is making his season debut in Round 3.