The last series before the Fourth of July had its fair share of fireworks for the Express.
Jack Mayfield smacked a bases-loaded, walk-off hit on Wednesday night to cap a seven-run rally and help Round Rock down the Omaha Storm Chasers 9-8 in 10 innings. It was the second straight walk-off win for the Express after Taylor Jones won it with a 10th-inning home run on Tuesday night.
“Anytime you find yourself in a position like that, you just kind of chip away and not dismiss the game,” Jones said. “Both sides were riled up and there was a lot of that energy flowing. We were able to lock it in.”
A near-capacity crowd of 12,921 filled Dell Diamond on Wednesday, the 11th largest crowd in the stadium’s history.
Round Rock starter Akeem Bokstick (4-4, 6.47 ERA) allowed eight runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and a pair of walks in five innings. Tanner Duncan (2-0, 3.38 ERA) picked up the win, striking out one in two complete innings.
Rehabbing Houston Astros reliever Joe Smith appeared in his second straight game for the Express and gave up one hit and struck out two batters over one inning of work.
With the Iowa Cubs’ win over the San Antonio Missions combined with the result in Round Rock, the Express are just half a game back of the Missions for the PCL American Southern Division lead.
Ryan O’Hearn and Bubba Starling each hit solo home runs in the second inning. O’Hearn followed that up with his second bomb in as many at-bats one inning later.
Alex De Goti got Round Rock on the board with a sac fly in the fourth.
Bostick wasn’t going to let O’Hearn get a home-run hat trick in the fifth and beaned the batter with a 91 MPH fastball to the arm. The two exchanged words while the Omaha bench and most of the Round Rock dugout spilled out onto the field.
“I wouldn’t say you like it because of the circumstance,” Jones said. “But there’s a certain type of energy that flows through the game when something like hat happens. Any time there’s a jolt of energy like that, you can feed off it.”
Starling hit a grand slam to blow the game open for the Storm Chasers two batters later.
But Round Rock rallied in the bottom half of the inning, when Jones blasted his 15th home run of the year — a three-run shot to left — to cut the lead in half. James Ritchie and Chas McCormick continued to cut into the lead with RBIs in the sixth inning.
McCormack tied the game with a 416-foot bomb to center field before Mayfield won it all with a bases-loaded hit over the left fielder’s head.
“You get wins like that, it can help propel you,” Jones said. “You’re doing that at home and you’ve got the crowd behind you. Hopefully we can take that, finish it off in OKC and head into the break feeling good.”
The Express wrap up the first half of the in Oklahoma City, playing five games in four days before the Triple-A All-Star Game in El Paso next Wednesday night. Round Rock returns to Dell Diamond on July 11 when the Iowa Cubs come to town.
“You always want to stay even-keeled,” Jones said. “But big wins at home before you go on a break is always good. We can carry this to the road, get to the break and get some rest and then get back at it.”