If the last three games are standard, the Express are in for a stellar second half.
Round Rock scored the final six runs of the game, rallying from a four-run deficit to beat the New Orleans Baby Cakes 6-4 Wednesday night to take the third straight game in the four-game series.
“The guys did a great job staying in the game and staying locking in when New Orleans scored a few runs early,” Pitcher Nick Martinez said. “Some guys can check out, but our guys didn’t do that tonight. They kept chugging along and we came out victorious.”
A.J. Griffin (0-1 15.43 ERA) had his second rehab start for the Express and gave up four runs on six hits with four strikeouts in 3.1 innings of work. Nick Martinez (2-0, 3.42 ERA) got the win thanks to four scoreless innings in relief.
Brett Nicholas finished 2-for-4 with one RBI and a run scored, Ronald Guzman scored twice and hit his second home run of the series, and Jared Hoying recorded a hit for the fourth straight game.
Jason Martinson drove in the game-winning runs. In the last four games, the third baseman had five RBIs and three hits, including one home run, with four runs scored.
The win puts the Express (44-53) 17 and a half game behind the division-leading Memphis Redbirds (61-35) and just one game behind the Nashville Sounds (45-52) in the Pacific Coast League American Southern Division.
Round Rock won Game 1 of the series in dominant fashion on Monday, hitting three home runs en route to a 10-1 win. Luis Marte followed that up with a walk-off home run, his first long ball in Triple-A, helping the Express beat the Baby Cakes 5-3 on Tuesday.
“Winning always creates a better environment in the clubhouse,” Martinez said. “You get a few under your belt like this, you just want to keep playing well and keep the wins coming in.”
The first inning didn’t go as planned for Griffin, who gave up a trio of singles and a monster three-run home run. He allowed four runs on five hits in his last rehab start against Memphis on April 28.
New Orleans continued its mini home run derby with a dinger in the second inning, this one a solo shot to left field. Round Rock has given up 116 home runs this season, second most in the Pacific Coast League.
The Express still didn’t have much luck at the plate in the second inning but they were still able to get on base. Jurickson Profar and Brett Nicholas drew back-to-back bases-loaded walks to cut the New Orleans lead in half.
Drew Stubbs walked with two out in the fourth inning and Jurickon Profar followed that up with a single. Stubbs scored all the way from first base when the New Orleans outfielder misplayed the ball.
Ronald Guzman tied the game in the sixth inning, blasting his team-leading 11th home run with a solo shot just short of the stage in right field.
Singles by Nicholas and Hoying and a one-out walk by Guzman loaded the bases for Martinson, who smoked a single up the middle to bring home two runs and give the Express the lead for good.
The Express and Baby Cakes wrap up their four-game series Thursday at 7:05 when Round Rock righty Clayton Blackburn (3-2, 5.47 ERA) takes the mound against New Orleans starter Justin Nicolino (4-3, 4.33 ERA).
Round Rock then hits the road, playing eight games in eight days beginning Friday night in Fresno and continuing in Sacramento on Tuesday. The next home stand begins July 29 against the El Paso Chihuahuas.
“Like we did tonight, we didn’t give any at-bats or pitches away tonight,” Martinez said. “If we do those things, we’ll be all right for the rest of the season.”