ROUND ROCK – The Round Rock Express only recorded five hits Saturday night, but they made the most of them, defeating the Nashville Sounds 4-3 at Dell Diamond to level their series heading into Sunday.
The winner of Sunday’s rubber match will take over first place in the PCL American Southern Division standings as the Express (45-42) moved to within a half game of the Sounds (47-43) with Saturday’s victory.
Sounds C Matt Pagnozzi pushed the Express into a 3-0 hole in the top of the third, taking Round Rock starter Luke Jackson just deep enough to left. RF Caleb Grindl led off the inning with a walk and SS Hector Gomez singled ahead of Pagnozzi, who brought both runners home with his ninth home run of the season.
The Express got two runs back in the home half of the third to cut their deficit to one at 3-2. With one out, LF Ryan Strausborger reached second on a throwing error by Nashville third baseman Pete Orr. SS Luis Sardinas then roped a RBI double into the left field corner to get Round Rock on the board. After a strikeout, CF Jared Hoying delivered Sardinas with a double into the right field corner to pull the E-Train within one.
Round Rock plated two more runs in the fifth to seize control of the lead. 3B Josh Wilson took one for the team to lead off the inning and immediately scored on a RBI triple by Strausborger to square things up. Sardinas then grounded out to short, scoring Strausborger with the go-ahead run to make it 4-3 E-Train.
It was zeros from that point forward as the Express bullpen shutdown the Sounds over the last four innings to even the series at 1-1.
LHP Michael Kirkman (2-4, 6.59 ERA) earned his second win of the season after entering for Jackson in the fifth. Kirkman, whose allowed just one earned run since May 11, was perfect over two innings, striking out two. Jackson took his second-straight no decision after allowing three runs on five hits over four innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked two in his Dell Diamond debut.
RHP Ben Rowen, in his first appearance since returning from a four-week stint with the Texas Rangers, went three up, three down in the ninth to notch his third save.
The Express and Sounds will close out their first series of the season Sunday night at Dell Diamond. RHP Phil Irwin (4-1, 2.41 ERA) is slated to start the rubber match for Round Rock, while Nashville will counter with RHP Ariel Pena (4-6, 4.73 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Red, White & Blue Weekend will conclude Sunday with an All-American Picnic Special at the ballpark. For $25, fans get a reserved ticket to the game, as well as access to the picnic area where they can enjoy hot dogs, hamburgers, watermelon, and other refreshments. For more information on the Express, visit www.RoundRockExpress.com or call (512) 255-2255. Keep up with the Express on Facebook and Twitter!