Express manager Jason Wood knew his team had potential to put up big offensive numbers, it was just a matter of when the bats would come alive.
Round Rock hit two home runs for the second straight game, but gave up four long balls in an 8-6 loss to the Nashville Sounds Thursday night at Dell Diamond.
“I knew it was in there,” Wood said. “I think they’re starting to get a little more comfortable and they're starting to string some at-bats together. Strikeouts are down. All of these guys can hit, it’s just a matter of getting on the same page.”
The Express beat the Sounds 8-1 in the first game of the series on Wednesday night thanks to two-run home runs by Cameron Rupp and Tommy Joseph. Round Rock has hit seven home runs in the last five games.
Starter David Hurlbut (1-4, 5.79 ERA) gave up five runs on eight hits with two strikeouts.
Tim Lincecum pitched two innings and gave up one run on no hits with a pair of walks and Connor Sadzeck (2-1, 5.12 ERA) suffered the loss after allowing two runs and two hits.
“Tonight was one of the first non-quality starts in a while,” Wood said. “All in all I’m happy with what these guys have done, it just didn’t work out tonight. Hurlbut didn’t have his stuff and he couldn’t stop the bleeding when he needed to.”
Nashville got things off to fast start when Jake Smolinski blasted a solo home run with two outs in the first inning. Round Rock infielder Christian Lopes matched that with a solo shot of his own in the second to tie the game.
Willie Calhoun had trouble fielding a drive to deep left in the third inning and another Nashville players scored from first base. A balk set up an RBI groundout to give the Sounds a 3-1 lead.
Hurlbut’s rough night contained in the fourth when he gave up his second solo shot of the game and Nashville scored a pair of runs to take a 5-1 lead.
Andy Ibanez brought Round Rock to within a run with his three-run blast in the bottom half of the inning and Destin Hood drove in Lopes for the game-tying run with a single up the middle two batters later.
The teams continued to go back-and-forth as Nashville again took a one-run lead in the fifth but the Express fought back once again the Scott Heineman roped an RBI single to center field to tie the game at six runs apiece.
Smolinski and Anthony Garcia hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning to give Nashville the lead for good.
“The one thing that showed tonight was offensively we battled back and put ourselves in a position to come from behind and win,” Wood said. “The one downfall was as soon as we tied it up, we went back out there and gave it up on the pitching side of things.”
The series continues Friday when Yohander Mendez (0-5, 0-5, 5.18 ERA) will take the mound for Round Rock and Saturday when Yovani Gallardo (1-1, 4.54 ERA) will toe the rubber at 7:05 p.m. and concludes Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
“I want to see composure and a quality start (from Mendez),” Wood said. “If he keeps us in the ballgame because I think offensively, we’re going to be just fine.”