ROUND ROCK EXPRESS

Express fall to Redbirds in penultimate home game

Round Rock and Memphis face off in the last home game of the season on Thursday night.

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Tempo is a big thing for any baseball player, and Tommy Joseph is no different.

The Round Rock first baseman had two hits, drove in a run and scored a run, but didn’t find their groove until it was too late as they lost 8-4 to the Memphis Redbird in the penultimate home game of the season. 

“We didn’t play with very good tempo on both defense or offense,” Joseph said. “As we got to their bullpen, we had more life. That’s something we’ll have to take into tomorrow. Memphis is a good team and they’re going to playoffs for a reason, so it’s a good last test for us.”

Express starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx (3-6, 5.68 ERA) took the loss after allowing five runs, four earned, on six hits with seven strikeouts and a trio of walks. He hasn’t won a game at Dell Diamond since Sept. 2, 2016.

Round Rock beat Memphis 5-3 in the first game of the series on Tuesday night. Nick Noonan drew a pair of bases-loaded walks, while Willie Calhoun and Tommy Joseph each drove in a run and Scott Heineman had three hits. 

“The last homestand, it’s always bittersweet for everybody because you know the season is winding down, but you’re still grinding,” Joseph said. “You also get to enjoy Round Rock and Austin. It’s a great place to play and a great atmosphere. There are only good things to say.”

Memphis outfielder Lane Thomas hit a two-run home run that literally left the ballpark in the second inning and shortstop Edmundo Sosa followed that up with a solo shot to right field one inning later. 

The Redbirds extended their lead in the top of the fourth, adding another run when Max Schrock singled to left field. Sosa drove in his second run of the game in the sixth with a sacrifice fly, and Memphis took a 5-0 lead. 

Joseph smacked a double to the right-field gap to drive in Scott Heineman and get the Express on the board in the bottom half of the inning. 

Memphis left fielder Wilfredo Tovar hit the third home run of the game for the visitors with a two-run bomb in the eighth. The Redbirds added to their lead with an RBI single four batter later to make it a seven-run game.

Tony Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth and Nick Noonan doubled off the right field wall to cut the lead in half, but it was too little, too late for Round Rock. 

Round Rock and Memphis wrap up their three-game series Thursday at 7:05 p.m. Righty Chris Tillman (0-1, 12.60 ERA) will get the ball for the Express in the regular-season finale at Dell Diamond. 

The Express finish the year with four games at the Iowa Cubs. 

“You want to finish strong so you have something to build on going into the winter and next season no matter where you are at,” Joseph said. “It’s one last hoorah with the guys. This team will never be together again with this group. That’s something we’ll understand and look back on years down the road.”

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