Sampson to start for Hooks vs. Express

ROUND ROCK, TX Sampson, slated to make his initial regular-season appearance for the Astros this Friday at Wrigley Field when Houston opens a three-game series against the Cubs, posted a record of 7-8 with a 4.59 ERA in 24 appearances and 19 starts last season for the Astros. According to Hooks manager Luis Pujols, Sampson is scheduled for five innings or roughly 85 pitches, whichever comes first.

Sunday's game follows Saturday's exhibition between the same two clubs at The Dell Diamond in Round Rock. Four Express hurlers combined on a three-hitter to blank the Hooks 2-0. Starter Jared Gothreaux fanned seven and allowed just one hit and one walk over four innings of work. Ryan Houston, Steven Randolph and Kyle Middleton kept the Hooks off the board the rest of the way.

Brad James, slated to be the Hooks opening day starter this Thursday against Tulsa, gave up both Round Rock runs during his four innings on the hill. James surrendered seven hits and did not walk a batter while striking out two. Four Hooks relievers shut down the Express from the fifth inning on, with Sammy Gervacio looking especially impressive during his two frames. Gervacio will likely open the year as the Hooks closer.

The game's first run came courtesy of a pair of former Hooks. Jonny Ash singled for the Express with two out in the second and scored on Edwin Maysonet's double down the left field line. In the third, Round Rock designated hitter Lance Niekro singled to left with two out to plate Yordany Ramirez from third for a 2-0 Express lead.

First baseman Rob Cosby doubled to open the second for the Hooks. Corpus Christi's only other hits were singles by right fielder Mitch Einertson in the seventh and second baseman Drew Sutton in the ninth.

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