Express stumble to second straight home loss

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For the second straight game, the Express got out to a lead they couldn’t hang on to.

Round Rock scored two runs in the first two innings, but only scored one run the rest of the way, falling 5-3 to the Omaha Storm Chasers in the second of a four-game series Thursday night at Dell Diamond.

“We maybe a little better mental focus with men in scoring position,” Express manager Jason Wood said. “The guys are giving their best as much as they can. When you score two runs in the first two innings, you’re looking to carry that on. It makes it a little bit tough.”

Round Rock fell 5-4 on Thursday night despite taking a one-run lead in the first inning. The Express won the series opener 5-4 in walk-off fashion when Doug Bernier scored on a wild pitch in the 11th inning.

Bernier and Cesar Puello homered for the Express on Friday night while Luis Marte finished 3-for-4 at the plate. Travis Snider extended his hitting streak to six games with a double in the fifth inning.

Eddie Gamboa (1-1, 4.66 ERA) lasted seven innings and gave up four runs, three earned, on nine hits with four strikeouts and three walks. The knuckleballer had one wild pitch and allowed a run to score on a misplaced pick off throw.

“With Gamboa, I’ve seen him for three starts and it’s been on every time,” Wood said. “You’re not getting too many good swings. They give up walks and hits, so you need to score a lot of runs to support that.

Bernier homered in the bottom of the first inning to give Round Rock an early lead. Patrick Cantwell drove a 3-2 pitch to right field to bring home Preston Beck and double the Express lead one inning later.

Corey Toups hit is second home run in as many games for Omaha and cut the lead in half with a solo shot. The Storm Chasers tied the game two batters later when Billy Burns scored on a double to right field.

Omaha added two more runs in the fifth inning. The Storm Chasers took advantage with two on with a single to right. Gamboa then made a mistake and saw his pickoff attempt go out of the reach of Beck at first base to gift the Storm Chasers their second run of the inning.

Round Rock center fielder Puello joined the home run train and hit a solo bomb to right field in the seventh inning to cut the lead to one run. Omaha added an insurance run in the top of the ninth.

In nine of 15 games this season, Round Rock has allowed at least 10 hits.

“Teams are going to get hits,” Wood said. “We teach and preach throwing to contact. One thing that can be stressed is making good pitches when we’re ahead in the count. We need to put hitters away when we’re ahead in the count.”

The Express and Storm Chasers wrap up their four-game set Friday at 7:05 p.m. Round Rock then plays host to the Iowa Cubs in a four-game series beginning Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at Dell Diamond.

Allen Webster, who was sent to extended spring training early this week after starting the season with the Express, returned to the club on Thursday. The Rangers also signed veteran infielder Josh Wilson and assigned him to Round Rock. Luis Mendez was sent to Frisco after spending just one game in Round Rock.

The day started with some good news, however, as Anthony Bass got the call every minor league player waits for as his contract was purchased by the Texas Rangers. With the Express this season, he made three relief appearances, allowing just two hits in 8.1 scoreless innings with 16 strikeouts.

“The game was going on yesterday when I got the call that he was going up,” Wood said. “It’s well deserved. He was the guy that was ready to go on this staff. He’s been there before and I have no doubt he’ll go up there and do well too.”

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