ROUND ROCK, Texas – The Round Rock Express suffered their second shutout defeat in as many games Tuesday night as the Omaha Storm Chasers pitched a 3-0 shutout at Dell Diamond. The defeat marked Round Rock’s first back-to-back shutout losses since July 12-13, 2012 against Memphis.
Omaha RHP Luke Farrell (1-0, 2.51) shined in his first road start of the season, picking up the win after holding Round Rock (6-5) to just two hits and two walks in 5.1 innings of shutout baseball. The righty also recorded four strikeouts.
Express RHP Nick Tepesch (1-1, 3.52) was dealt his first loss of the season after allowing three runs on nine hits in five innings of work. The righty did his best to limit the damage, as eight of the nine hits allowed were singles. Tepesch also struck out two and walked two.
Omaha (9-4) started the scoring early with a run in the top of the first inning. 2B Whit Merrifield hit a leadoff single before swiping both second and third base. He came around to score on a single off the bat of 3B Cheslor Cuthbert. Singles from LF Jose Martinez and RF Jorge Bonifacio created a jam for Tepesch, but the righty escaped with a pair of flyouts.
On the other side, Farrell cruised through the first three innings, facing the minimum in just 35 total pitches. SS Jurickson Profar recorded the only hit against Farrell in that span, a single that ultimately resulted in the speedy infielder getting caught trying to steal second.
The Storm Chasers added to their lead in the third inning with a flurry of two-out baserunners. DH Travis Snider opened the frame with a double, the only extra-base hit of the game allowed by Tepesch, who quickly recovered to retire SS Dusty Coleman and C Parker Morin with a pair of groundouts. After Merrifield drew a two-out walk, CF Brett Eibner and Cuthbert teamed up for a pair of singles that scored Snider and Merrifield.
The E-Train threatened in the fourth inning with a pair of two-out walks from CF Jared Hoying andDH Joey Gallo, however 1B Patrick Kivlehan struck out looking to end the frame.
RF James Jones broke out of a mini-slump after slapping a one-out double into right field in the sixth. The base hit snapped an 0-for-8 streak that stretched back to Friday’s 8-6 win over the Iowa Cubs. He advanced to third on a Profar groundout, but Hoying flew out to end the inning. He finished the game 1-4.
Collectively, the Express bullpen came out firing on all cylinders, combining to shut out the Storm Chasers over the last four innings of the game. LHP Chad Bell started things off, retiring all six batters he faced in two innings of relief. RHP Luke Jackson was a walk away from a perfect eighth before RHP Carlos Fisher pitched a 1-2-3 ninth in his season debut with the E-Train.
Unfortunately for the home team, the bats couldn’t find any late inspiration form the nearly perfect performance from the bullpen as Round Rock finished the game with just four total hits. The Express have now failed to push a run across the plate in 19 consecutive innings dating back to last Friday.
Round Rock and Omaha will face off in game two of this four-game series on Wednesday evening at 7:05 p.m. LHP Cesar Ramos is scheduled to take the mound for the Express, opposite LHP Jonathan Dziedzic of the Storm Chasers. Every Wednesday home game this season is a Winning Wednesday, presented by the Texas Lottery. Fans can also help Strike Out Hunger by bringing two H-E-B branded canned goods in exchange for one lawn ticket, to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank.