W - Hankins (5-1)
HR - Nelson (6)
23-11, 4.5 GU
After yet another double-digit run outburst, the Express have now scored at least seven runs in each of their last eight contests. And they now have a 4.5-game division lead.
Round Rock jumped on top early via cleanup hitter Brad Nelson's two-run homer––his sixth of the season. He also walked later in the game.
Right fielder Doug Deeds, who was 2-for-4 with a double and a free pass, had the Express' only other extra-base hit in the game.
Matt Kata (3/5) and Kevin Cash (2/4, BB) both reached safely three times. Cash's two-run single in the top of the seventh was the ultimate game-deciding hit.
Third baseman Brian Barden was just 1-for-4 with a walk, snapping his consecutive multi-hit games streak at six. He is batting .378 in 28 games this season.
Four of Round Rock's 10 runs were unearned due to four Tucson errors on the night.
Although Express starting pitcher Derek Hankins surrendered six runs (five earned) over five innings of work, he earned the victory and improved to 5-1 on the season. Hanks walked three and struck out two in the outing.
Veteran righty Yhency Brazoban lowered his ERA to 4.50 with two perfect innings of relief, striking out three. He threw 18 strikes and five balls in the appearance.
Zach Phillips continued his struggles, as he allowed two runs in two innings. After an excellent start, the 24-year-old has permitted 12 runs on 16 hits in his last 6.2 innings.
W - Miller (3-1)
16-17, 7.0 GB
With Thursday's victory, the RoughRiders have climbed into sole possession of second place in the Texas League's South Division. Unfortunately, they're also still seven games behind first-place San Antonio.
Thursday's game was also the much-awaited official pro debut of 23-year-old Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin, who recently signed a reported five-year, $15.5 million contract with the Rangers. Martin had been working out and playing in games at extended spring training for the last two weeks.
Batting leadoff and playing center field, Martin began his state-side professional career by lining a 2-2 pitch off the center field wall for a double. His other plate appearances––ground-ball single to center (0-2), groundout to first (0-0), flyout to left field (3-1), and RBI double to right field (2-1). Overall, he was 3-for-5 with two doubles and went 1-for-2 on the base paths.
Starting pitcher Jake Brigham (4.31 ERA/.238 BAA) settled down after a rough first inning to rack up the quality start. The 6-foot-3 righty worked six innings, giving up three runs on five hits. He fanned six and walked three.
Justin Miller (3.44 ERA/.209 BAA) bounced back from a poor outing by retiring all four batters he faced––striking out one––to pick up his third victory.
Light-hitting shortstop Guilder Rodriguez was a run-producing machine, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI. He entered the night with only one two-bagger in his first 30 games this season.
Tom Mendonca (1/4, 2B, BB), Jonathan Greene (2/4, 2B) and Jose Felix (2/4, 2B) also doubled.
Second baseman Renny Osuna raised his average to .312 after he singled three times in five trips. He was 1-for-2 on the base paths. Osuna has stolen only three bases out of eight attempts thus far.
W - Erlin (3-1)
SV - Hurley (3)
21-12, 1.0 GB
Thursday evening's contest featured two of baseball's better left-handed pitching pitchers in the Rangers' Robbie Erlin and Cleveland's (and former Rangers draft pick) Drew Pomeranz.
Erlin (2.14 ERA/.119 BAA) won the battle, as he tossed six innings of one-run ball, giving up three hits, walking one, and striking out seven.
The 20-year-old Erlin held Kinston hitless through the first 3.1 innings until he gave up back-to-back hits, leading to his only run allowed. It marked the first time Erlin has allowed consecutive hits since April 20 against Winston-Salem––a span of more than 24 innings.
Erlin's line over his last four starts––27 ip, 7 h, 3 r, 2 bb, 31 k.
The offense plated four runs on 10 singles in the contest. Right fielder Jared Prince led the way with three knocks in four trips.
Shortstop Leury Garcia (2/4) and first baseman Chris McGuiness (2/4) singled twice while Ryan Strausborger (1/3, BB) and Mike Olt (1/3, BB) both singled and walked. Garcia and Strausborger each notched their 10th stolen base of the season.
Wilredo Boscan, who appears to be working out of the bullpen after joining Myrtle Beach from the Double-A Frisco rotation, punched out two in a scoreless inning.
Kansas State product Trevor Hurley (0.79 ERA/.205 BAA) sat down all four men he faced––striking out a pair––for his third save.
W - Johnson (2-0)
SV - Van Meter (2)
20-13, 1.5 GB
After Thursday's contest, the Crawdads have now scored just three total runs in their last four games. But the one-run output was enough to pick up the victory.
Thanks to the pitching of Justin Grimm, Ryan Rodebaugh, Kevin Johnson, and Joe Van Meter, the Crawdads and Sand Gnats played scoreless ball into the 13th inning.
Grimm (2.85 ERA/.207 BAA) was fantastic, scattering six singles over seven scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out five. Sally League opponents have only 29 hits in 41 innings against the 22-year-old University of Georgia product so far this season.
Rodebaugh (0.46 ERA/.233 BAA) lowered his already miniscule earned-run average with four more shutout frames, working around three singles and no walks. He fanned two.
Johnson and Van Meter tacked on one shutout frame apiece to finish it out, with Johnson getting the win and Van Meter earning the save.
The nine Hickory position players combined to go 6-for-42 (.143) in the game. Shortstop Jurickson Profar (.209/.324/.419) went 2-for-6 with a well-timed double.
Profar led off the top of the 13th with a two-bagger, moved to third on a flyout to center, and scored on a wild pitch while Savannah's Luis Rojas was attempting to intentionally walk Andrew Clark.
Van Meter loaded the bases on an infield single and two walks in the bottom of the frame, but he got out of it by inducing a two-out flyout to center.
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