Newly activated from the disabled list, Doug Bernier was happy to be out of the dugout and back on the field.
The veteran infielder finished with two hits in just his 10t appearance since May 1, helping Round Rock hold on to beat the New Orleans Baby Cakes 3-2 Thursday night at Dell Diamond and pick up its first series sweep since late May.
“I spent way too much time in that dugout,” Bernier said. “It’s nice to be back and be healthy and be able to contribute a little bit.”
The Express have won six straight games against New Orleans and are 10-2 against them this season, outscoring the American Southern Division bottom dwellers 35-17 in that span.
Clayton Blackburn (4-2, 5.49 ERA) took home the win, tossing five innings and allowing no runs on two hits with a pair of strikeouts. R.J. Alvarez stepped in as closer for the second straight night and picked up his fifth save thanks to a one-hit ninth inning.
Round Rock dominated the first game of the series on Monday, smashing three home runs and cruising to a 10-1 win. Luis Marte hit his first ever Triple-A home run in the 10th inning of the Game 2 to give the Express a walk-off win, and they overturned a two-run deficit to win the third game 6-4 on Wednesday.
“We’re not the team that dominates in any one area,” Bernier said. “On any given night, we’re going to have to win in a different way and be creative. We have a lot of good baseball players and we need to learn how to win in different games.”
Round Rock had a golden opportunity to get on the board early after loading the bases with no outs in the first inning. But back-to-back pop outs and a fly ball stranded all there ducks on the pond.
Brett Hays hit his third home run of the year to lead off the fifth inning. With two on and one out, Jurickson Profar singled up the right side to bring home Drew Stubbs and double the lead.
Travis Snider hit his first home run since July 4 one inning later to make it a three-run game.
But the Baby Cakes started to fight back in the seventh after a leadoff triple and groundout. They added another run in the eighth when Tanner Scheppers gave up two singles to the first three batters of the inning.
New Orleans center fielder Brandon Barnes, who leads the team and is tied for 15th in the Pacific Coast League with 15 stolen bases, swiped two bags to get to third with two outs. But Sam Wolff came in and got a clutch strikeout to end the inning.
Barnes reached base on a routine fly ball to right field. Bernier went back to form his position at second base, but Stubbs called him off and accidentally ran into him. The end result was both players and the ball on the ground.
“Balls that are hit out to right field tend to drift away from the stands,” Bernier said. “He was coming in and called it last second and I tried to get out of the way, but when I did, we touched just a bit and it kind of disrupted the play.”
The Express hit the road for eight days, beginning Friday night in Fresno and continuing Tuesday in Sacramento. They return home next Saturday at 7:05 when the El Paso Chihuahuas come to town.
Dell Diamond has bee far more friendly to the Express this season as they boast a 29-22 record in their home park. But with a dismal 16-31 mark on the road, the upcoming trip is a chance to prove they can buck that trend.
“Our mindset going into this trip is that we had a good home stand and we need to carry the momentum,” Bernier said. “If we get some road wins, we can come back and make a little push or do something here in the final month.”