One pitch is all Wille Calhoun needed.
With the Express down by three and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Calhoun sent the first pitch he saw to deep center, a walk-off grand slam to give Round Rock a 10-9 win against the Oklahoma City Dodgers, the team that traded him just over two months ago.
“I was just looking for a fastball,” he said. “I’ve never hit a walk-off grand slam. I hit a walk-off home run earlier in the year. They’re all my friends so do it against them and have them see that is unreal.”
Kevin Torres led off the ninth inning with a single to left field, and Jose Cardona followed that up with a single to center. Jurickson Profar drew a walk on four straight pitches to load the bases for Round Rock’s home run leader.
As soon as Calhoun stepped to the plate, every fan at Dell Diamond knew what was about to happen. In nine games against his former team, the outfielder has 11 RBIs and two home runs to go along with a double and triple.
With two home runs on Sunday night, Calhoun is third in the Pacific Coast League with 31 home runs. He’s hit eight homers since joining Round Rock on Aug. 1 as the centerpiece that sent Texas ace Yu Darvish to the Dodgers.
“It has been fun and I’ve enjoyed my time here,” Calhoun said. “Hopefully I can keep playing for the next month. But everyone has good vibes and everyone is meshing really well. I love this team.”
Clayton Blackburn (6-2, 4.97 ERA) entered that game as the best in a struggling pitching staff, boasting a 1-0 record and 0.53 ERA in his last three starts. But the righty struggled on Sunday, allowing four runs on six hits in five innings.
Oklahoma City scored four runs on four hits in just 11 pitches to take a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning. The pitching staff allowed its 158th and 159th home runs of the season, tied for the third worst in the league.
The Express roster looks a lot different from it did even a week ago. Catcher A.J. Jimenez, pitcher Paolo Espino, and third baseman Will Middlebrooks all joined the major league team when the rosters expanded on Sept. 1.
Round Rock got a wealth of reinforcements from Double-A, Advanced-A, and Rookie ball.
Xavier Paul started the transition from outfielder to pitcher in the offseason, but returned to the field and made his Express debut in the fifth inning when Jared Hoying left the game with an injury. He finished the game 0-for-1 in his first at-bat with the team.
Round Rock wraps up the regular season Monday afternoon at 12:05 p.m. Adrian Sampson (0-0, 0.00) is set to make his second start for the Express in the regular season finale.