ROUND ROCK, Texas – Three straight extra-base hits with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning allowed the Round Rock Express to break a 1-1 draw and ultimately defeat the Omaha Storm Chasers by a final score of 3-2.
Express RHP Chad Smith (2-1, 7.56) picked up the win despite allowing an unearned run on two hits in 1.1 innings of relief. Omaha LHP David Huff (1-1, 3.00) suffered the loss, giving up both late Round Rock (8-5) runs on three hits in 1.1 innings out of the bullpen.
In a similar start to last night’s 5-1 Express victory, both starting pitchers cruised through the first few innings. RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez and RHP Brooks Pounders went blow-to-blow, resulting in a scoreless affair through four innings of play. Gonzalez posted his first quality start of the season, a six-inning performance in which he allowed just one run on three hits while striking out seven.
Omaha (9-6) was able to break through in the fifth, thanks to a leadoff double courtesy of LF Jorge Bonifacio. DH Travis Snider singled in the next at bat to advance Bonifacio to third. C Tony Cruzthen picked up a RBI with a ground ball that allowed Bonifacio to score despite being tossed around the infield for a 4-6-3 double play.
The Storm Chasers’ 1-0 lead proved to be a fleeting moment in time as the Express tied the game after just three at-bats in the bottom of the fifth inning. 1B Patrick Kivlehan started things off with a four-pitch walk before LF Jared Hoying lined a shot into right field for a double. 2B Pedro Ciriacoput Round Rock on the board with a single that sputtered past the infield and allowed Kivlehan to score from third.
RF Drew Robinson would draw a walk to load the bases with no outs, but back-to-back strikeouts from C Patrick Cantwell and CF James Jones then a flyout off the bat of SS Jurickson Profar ended the threat.
The E-Train used a seventh inning rally to push two runs across the board and grab a late lead over the Storm Chasers for the second straight evening. With two outs in the frame, a long fly ball off Cantwell’s bat bounced off the wall in right field, resulting in a stand-up double. Jones then lined a shot just fair over the first base bag that skipped deep into the right field corner. The speedy outfielder raced around the bases, ultimately sliding into third for a triple. Cantwell scored easily on the play to give the Express a 2-1 lead.
The late extra-base hit rally would continue as Profar lined a double into center field as Jones trotted home to put the home team up 3-1. DH Justin Ruggiano then struck out looking to end the inning.
Omaha responded with an unearned run in the eighth. Cruz and Barmes connected for back-to-back singles before CF Reymond Fuentes grounded into a force out that retired Barmes at second. Ciriaco then launched the ball to Kivlehan at first, but the throw went awry, resulting in an error that allowed Cruz to score. Robinson then single-handedly put to rest any idea of another Omaha run with an impressive diving catch in right-center field that retired 2B Whit Merrifield and closed the door on the inning.
RHP Carlos Fisher ran into a bit of a speed bump in the ninth inning, allowing a single and a pair of walks to load the bases with one out. However the righty bounced back with six straight strikes down the middle that quickly ended the late Omaha push, giving the E-Train a hard-fought 3-2 victory.
Tomorrow’s series finale will feature Express LHP Chad Bell (1-0, 2.3) making his first start of the season. RHP Miguel Almonte will take the ball for Omaha. Fans can stick around after the game for Bud Light Friday Fireworks.
Single game tickets are available along with season ticket packages and group discounts. For more information on the Express, visit www.RoundRockExpress.com or call (512) 255-2255. Keep up with the Express on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter!