The Colorado Springs Sky Sox (59-62) lost the first game of today’s doubleheader to the Memphis Redbirds (60-64), 8-6, but Collin McHugh (W, 5-3) and Logan Kensing (S, 14) combined for a four-hit shutout in game two to win 2-0 and split the doubleheader in front of 7,984 fans at Security Service Field.
McHugh began one of his best starts of the season on a shaky note, allowing a leadoff double to Mike O’Neill and then hitting Justin Christian to put two men on with no outs. Second baseman Kolten Wong proceeded to ground into a double play and Brock Peterson then struck out to end the inning. In the second inning the righty allowed two singles and one more in the third, but then retired the next 11 batters.
In the fourth inning the Sky Sox staked their starter to a two-run lead when third baseman Ryan Wheeler started the fourth inning off with a home run to right field off of Nick Greenwood (L, 2-6). Outfielder Xavier Nady then followed that up with home run of his own to give the Sox back-to-back home runs for the third time this season.
With the two-run lead, Kensing came on for the Sky Sox and shutdown the Redbirds for his 14th save of the season. The win marks only the second time in team history where Colorado Springs has won the game when their lone runs were from back-back home runs. The only other instance was on 5/10/2006 against the Iowa Cubs when they won the game 2-1.
Even though the Sky Sox’ pitching had the advantage over the Redbirds in game two, Memphis’ bats had the edge in game one. In the first game the Redbirds loaded the bases with one out in the first inning and then brought two men home on a single by Jamie Romak. Sky Sox’ infielder Drew Garcia’s brother Greg, then dealt the final blow in the inning with a three-run shot of off Sean Gallagher (L, 0-2) to make it 5-0.
Colorado Springs made a game of it in the bottom of the third inning when the team put two runners on with a walk and a double and then Gallagher hit a grounder to drive in a run to cut the lead down to four. An error by Wong put Tim Wheeler on and then Pacheco hit into a fielder’s choice to plate Garcia. With two men on Pacheco singled to load the bases and a wild pitch by Carlos Martinez (W, 5-2) scored Wheeler, but Pacheco was called out at home. Down two runs Ryan Wheeler then hit a RBI single to make it 5-4 Memphis.
In the next inning Memphis answered when Wong walked with the bases loaded. They continued to build up their lead when Romak scored on a fielding error by Rutledge and added one more run in the seventh. Colorado Springs scored two more runs in the game, one on a Xavier Nady homer and one on a Jordan Pacheco double but the team could not over come the two-run deficit.
Tomorrow the team aims to take a 2-1 series lead when lefty Nick Schmidt (4-3, 5.79) takes the mound in the spot-start against fellow lefty Nick Additon (8-6, 4.04) at 6:35 PM MT.
Sky Sox Notes: The back-to-back home runs in the second game was only the second time the Sky Sox have accomplished that feat against the Redbirds. The last time that occurred was on 4/24/2004.