Death by long ball.
Every run the Express gave up came via four home runs in the 5-4 loss to the Omaha Storm Chasers 5-2 Wednesday afternoon in the second of a four-game series at Dell Diamond.
“That’s the freak of nature of the game,” Express manager Jason Wood said. “I liked the way we picked away. We had chances to tie the game up and it didn’t happen. But we’ll be back tomorrow and battle.”
Travis Snider led the Express at the plate, finishing 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Brett Hays also finished 2-for-4 with a run scored. Austin Bibens-Dirkx (0-1, 3.45 ERA) took the loss after lasting six innings and giving up four runs on six hits with three strikeouts.
“You started to see him get a little tired there in the fifth inning,” Wood said. “He gave us the length we needed after a long game last night. Those homers today weren't crushed, they just snuck over the fence. He’ll bounce back.”
Luis Mendez made his Round Rock season debut at third base after getting called up from the Down East Wood Ducks in High-A. The Express also added pitchers Brady Dragmire from extended spring training and Tanner Scheppers from the Rangers.
Will Middlebrooks, who leads the team with four home runs and 14 RBIs, was placed on the disabled list on Tuesday. Pitchers Ryne Slack and Allen Webster were sent to extended spring training.
After a perfect first inning from Bibens-Dirkx, Drew Robinson led off with a double to deep left field. He moved to third when Patrick Cantwell flew out and scored when Snider singled up the middle.
Omaha took the lead with a pair of solo home runs in the third inning. But the Express came right back in the bottom half of the inning when Snider doubled off the wall in the center field to score Cantwell.
“They brought the infield in on my first at-bat and all you need to do is hit a ground ball through there,” Snider said. “Then in the second at-bat, I waited it out until he left the changeup up in the zone and was able to put a good hit on it.”
The Storm Chasers hit their third home run of the game to take the lead in the sixth inning. This time Ryan O’Hearn hit a two-run bomb to right field. Parker Morin continued the long ball bonanza with a solo shot in the eighth.
Ronald Guzman singled to score Hoying in the bottom of the eighth. One batter later, Preston Beck ground into a double play with runners on the corners to cut the lead to one run. But the Express went down in order in the ninth to end the comeback.
“There are going to be games where you get the hit with guys in scoring position,” Snider said. “I don’t think this is anything that the guys in this clubhouse are going to dwell on. We fought hard and our pitching staff has kept us in games.”
The Express won the first game of the series 5-4 in walk off fashion Tuesday night. Doug Bernier scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch. Starter Dillon Gee (0-2, 5.40) allowed one run with seven hits in five innings. Preston Claiborne (1-0, 1.50) earned the win thanks to two scoreless innings in relief.
The series continues Thursday night at 7:05 and concludes at the same time on Friday evening. Round Rock continues its homestead hosting the Iowa Cubs in a four-game set beginning Saturday at 7:05 p.m.
“The makeup of the squad is outstanding,” Snider said. “We have guys that have played at the highest level. It’s a grind here in the PCL and it’s easy to fall into that rut of being bitter and complain. But we’ve all done a good job of keeping it in perspective.”