A red-hot Rond Rock team couldn’t complete another comeback.
The Express tied the game late and got within a run in the bottom of the ninth Friday night, ultimately falling to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 3-2 and ending their seven-game winning streak.
“You sit down for 30 minutes after the game and talk to your teammates about what you can build on,” outfielder Scott Heineman said. “Then after that, you’ve just got to let it go and work on anything the next day.”
Express starter Richelson Pena (1-1, 4.50 ERA) gave up six hits and one run with no walks and seven strikeouts over six innings in his third start of the season. Reliever Ricardo Rodriguez (1-1, 0.98 ERA) took the loss, allowing two runs on three hits in 1.1 innings.
Colorado Springs pitching held Round Rock to five hits, the lowest total in nearly two weeks.
“They threw some good arms at us and we struggled to get anything going until the later innings,” Heineman said. “All their guys were throwing it hard, mixing it up and keeping us on our toes.”
The Express entered the series on a seven-game winning streak, their longest such stretch since 2008. They most recently picked up their first series sweep of the season, brushing aside the Omaha Storm Chasers in four games.
“It’s hard to say it was different, we just didn’t come out on top tonight,” Heineman said. “It was a hard-fought batter until the end. Obviously, when you get on a streak like that you’re mindful of continuing that.”
Willie Calhoun picked up the first hit of the game for the Express with a single in the fifth inning.
Tyrone Taylor hit a solo home run for Colorado Springs in the sixth inning to score the first run of the game, and Round Rock went down in order in the bottom half of the inning on two groundouts and a strikeout.
Round Rock had its best chance to score in the seventh inning after Heineman got hit by a pitch and eventually advanced all the way to third base on a stolen base and sac fly. Calhoun grounded out to end the inning and strand the runner.
Andy Ibanez blasted his seventh home run of the season to left field to tie the game in the eighth inning.
The Sky Sox took the lead for good with two runs in the top of the ninth inning, scoring on a triple to deep right field and a single.
Round Rock scored in the bottom of the ninth when Heineman singled over the third baseman’s head. But the team stranded two runners when Ibanez grounded out to end the game.
The series continues Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday at 6:05 p.m. before closing out the series at 7:05 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. Round Rock then hits the road for a five-game set at the Oklahoma City Dodgers before the All-Star break from July 9-11.
Closer R.J. Alvarez is the only Express player that will represent the PCL against the International League next Wednesday in Columbus.
“We fell really good and team chemistry is good,” Heineman said. “Through the first 40 games I was here, the team chemistry has always been great, but there were a lot of roster moves. Finally, we’re settling into a consistent team and that’s been nice.”