Express close out homestand with win over Sky Sox

Round Rock has won six of its last nine games, including the first series sweep of the season


Scott Heineman is a spark plug. 

The Round Rock outfielder capped off an outstanding series but going 4-for-4 with a pair of runs scored as the Express knocked off the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 8-4 in the series finale Tuesday night at Dell Diamond. 

He has 12 hits in 21 at-bats with five RBIs and three runs scored in the last five games. 

“He’s at the top of the order for a reason and he finds a way to make things happen on the bases and defensively,” Express manager Jason Wood said. “He seems to be in a good place and he’s getting to the ball and he’s seeing his pitches and he’s not missing them.”

On top of Heineman’s perfect performance at the plate, Hunter Cole had a pair of hits and RBIs while Willie Calhoun blasted three-run home run — his seventh bomb of the season — to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. 

Express starter David Hurlbut (2-5, 4.86 ERA) gave up four runs on six hits with four strikeouts over five innings of work. Deolis Guerra, Brady Feign and Tayler Scott combined to allow no runs on two hits with five strikeouts the rest of the way. 

“It goes without saying that if you get five or six innings out of these starters and you keep the run total down, it keeps the bullpen fresh,” Wood said. “Most of the starters have been able to go deep into games for us and at this time of the year, it’s really nice to have that.”

Tuesday’s game saw the seventh-largest crowd in Dell Diamond history with 13,091 fans in attendance. 

Colorado Springs took three of the first four games from Round Rock, with the line Express win coming Monday night as starter Adrian Sampson allowed just one run over six innings in a 4-3 win. 

They finish their nine-game homestand 6-3, including a four-game sweep of the Omaha Storm Chasers. 

“We talk about winning series and to sweep a series is really big,” Wood said. “Our bats are really coming alive. But I think the most important thing is finding a way to win ballgames here at home. It hasn’t been that easy this year.”

Scott Heineman and Willie Calhoun successfully pulled off a double steal in the first inning and Heineman came around from second to score the first run of the game. Calhoun needed a minute to recover after a hard slide at second base but stayed in the game as the designated hitter. 

Hunter Cole and Nick Noonan followed that up with back-to-back singles to extend the Round Rock lead to 3-0 after the first. 

Drew Robinson drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to right field and Calhoun blasted a three-run home run — his seventh of the season — one batter later to extend the lead to 7-0. 

Colorado Springs ended the shutout in the top of the fifth with a pair of home runs, a solo shot from Jett Bandy and a three-run bomb by Tyrone Taylor. 

Express shortstop Nick Noonan joined the home run party with his solo dinger — his fourth of the year — of the year in the top of the sixth. 

“We can put the opposition on the ropes,” Wood said. “Just when they think they’re out of it, we get a walk and a base hit and we score a run on them. It’s a mindset these guys have that they’re never out of it.”

The Express head to Oklahoma City for their final series before the All-Star break, facing the Dodgers in a five-game series beginning Wednesday night and continuing through Sunday afternoon. 

Closer R.J. Alvarez — and his hair — is the only Round Rock representative at the Triple-A All-Star game July 11 at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio. He leads the PCL with 16 saves and boasts a 2.30 ERA. 

“We’ve got a few nagging injuries, but you’ve got a group of guys that’s always ready to go,” Wood said. “I think we’ll roll into the All-Star break and keep grinding and get ready for the second half.”

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