SNEAK PEEK AT PITCH 25

Houston Dynamo legend Brian Ching kicks off hot new EaDo bar

Brian Ching is ready to welcome patrons to Pitch 25. Photo by Eric Sandler

This story originally appeared on CultureMap/Houston.

ne of Houston’s most eagerly-anticipated new bars is ready to kick things off in EaDo. Pitch 25 Beer Park, the beer garden and soccer bar that unites Dynamo legend Brian Ching with The Kirby Group, opens its doors to customers for the first time on Friday, June 8.

Pitch 25 blends the beer garden aspects of Kirby Group concepts Heights Bier Garten and Holman Draft Hall with unique soccer elements to create a space that’s unlike anywhere else in Houston. That starts with the venue’s indoor soccer pitch, which is big enough to hold four-on-four matches. In addition, framed jerseys and artwork pay tribute to Ching’s career; he remains the Dynamo’s all-time leading scorer and led the team to two MLS Cup championships.

Even with 42 TVs, Pitch 25 is more than a sports bar. It has a mix of seating options — everything from couches and high-top tables to swings — a huge patio with a stage, and even a few games like shuffleboard and corn hole that will appeal to people who refer to all professional sports as “sports ball.”

Although the retired player had previously invested in a few bars and restaurants, Ching readily admits he needed assistance in operating the 25,000-square-foot venue. To bring his vision of a soccer bar to fruition, he partnered with his longtime friends Andy Aweida and Jeff Barati, who enlisted Kirby Group food and beverage director Steven Salazar and executive chef Brandon Silva to create the food and beverage options. But this isn’t just some branding agreement where an athlete slaps his name on a business, Ching tells CultureMap that he expects to be a regular presence at Pitch 25.  

“I’ll be here pretty much everyday, to be honest. It’s the first business I’ve helped grow from idea to what it is now, and it’s right across the street [from his office with the Dynamo],” Ching says. “It’s something I want to be a part of, because my name is on it. I feel like my reputation is on it. It’s not something I’m going into with just, here’s my name. I want to grow and learn every aspect of it.”

Like Holman Draft Hall and Heights Bier Garten, Pitch 25 features 100 taps of beer (mostly craft along with some national brands) and wine. Although it doesn’t have a set cocktail menu, the bartenders can make classics like an Old Fashioned, a French 75, or a margarita. Two frozen drinks will also be available.

Silva’s food menu focuses on sandwiches, burgers, salads, and vegetable starters. The Brian Ching burger includes pineapple and fried spam in tribute to his Hawaiian heritage.

All of those food and drinks will be available throughout the World Cup. Pitch 25 will open early for some matches, starting at 9 am on Thursday, June 14 for the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Reservations are available for groups who want to watch the matches together. 

“I think everybody that walks into this place kind of steps back and goes ‘wow.’” Ching says. “It’s big, it’s unique, it’s different. I think if we can capitalize on that, the World Cup will be a great time for people to come and enjoy.”

Salazar adds that it will be a challenge adapting to the early mornings, but his team is ready. “It’ll be long days, but we’re fully staffed. There’s 40 people ready to work the floor,” he says.

Even when the Cup champion has won the final match — Ching says he's rooting for Messi to lead Argentina to victory — Pitch 25 will be ready to provide EaDo residents and revelers with a new place to party. Salazar and his team certainly aim to achieve a business that's worthy of Ching's reputation. 

“We’re not underachievers here. We open big. We dream big. We serve high-quality products,” Salazar says. “If it’s in the realm of possibility, we aim to please. We’re all about hospitality and delivering for our customers.”

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Pitch 25; 2120 Walker St.; Open Monday through Friday from 3 pm to 2 am, Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 2 am.

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Houston drops the opener

Angels use big sixth inning to take opener from Astros

Houston's offense started hot, then went cold Monday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With a 2-1 series win under their belt to start this ten-game homestand, the Astros turned the page to a three-game set with the Angels on Monday night. Things started strong for Houston, building an early lead, but it would erode in the middle innings as the Angels would respond with a big sixth inning to take the opener.

Final Score: Angels 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 18-17, tied for second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Suarez (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Brandon Bielak (1-2)

Houston Builds an early lead

After a 1-2-3 top of the first by Luis Garcia, Houston would start the scoring in the bottom of the inning. Back-to-back walks set things off, setting up an RBI ground-rule double by Alex Bregman, giving them the 1-0 lead. Kyle Tucker lead the bottom of the second off with a double, then came around to score on an RBI single by Myles Straw, then Michael Brantley made it 3-0 with an RBI double later in the inning.

Los Angeles roars back to take the lead

Los Angeles trimmed the lead to two runs in the top of the fourth with an RBI double, but Houston was able to get that run back on another RBI by Straw in the bottom of the fifth. Things fell apart for Garcia in the top of the sixth, with back-to-back one-out solo homers trimming the lead to one run and ending his night there: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 92 P.

The Angels didn't stop there, getting two more runs to take the lead off of Brandon Bielak, who managed just one out while blowing the lead. Brooks Raley would enter to get the final out of the inning, then tried to keep the deficit at one run when he returned in the top of the seventh. It looked like things might unravel for him, allowing the first two batters to reach base on a walk and single, but he would battle back to strike out the next three straight to strand both.

Angels take the opener

Joe Smith took over in the top of the eighth, still 5-4, but would get two outs while allowing a double in his three batters before Houston moved on to Kent Emanuel, who finished the inning off. After another scoreless inning for Houston's offense, Emanuel remained in the game in the top of the ninth to keep a walk-off chance alive, and he would do so by erasing a walk to send the one-run game to the bottom half. The Astros wouldn't pull off a comeback, though, dropping the opener to Los Angeles.

Up Next: The middle game of this series will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Tuesday night. It shapes up to be an exciting pitching matchup, with Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 3.58 ERA) for Houston going up against the two-way star Shohei Ohtani (1-0, 2.41 ERA) for Los Angeles.

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