The Sky Sox proved that wins come in all shapes and sizes on Saturday night as they defeated the Omaha Storm Chasers 4-2 despite being outhit 14-5 in front of 4,947 fans at Security Service Field.
The Sox would get on the board early in what seemed to have the makings of a repeat of Friday night’s 16-4 romping of these same Storm Chasers. Friday’s home run hero Matt Clark would once again serve as the catalyst for Colorado Springs’ offense, plating Peter Orr on a two-out RBI double off the right field wall after Orr reached on a fielding error.
Omaha right-hander, and former Sky Sox standout, Clayton Mortensen (2-2, 5.49) would limit the first inning scoring to one before the Sky Sox offense took control in the second.
After Tyler Thornburg allowed two runs in the top of the second on four singles and a solo shot by centerfielder Lane Adams, the Sox would answer with three of their own in the home half of the frame.
With one out in the home second, Nevin Ashley would take a Mortensen offering to the opposite field, banging a line drive solo shot off of the left field light tower to tie the game at two. A walk by Donnie Murphy would be followed by a Matt Long double to right center, giving Colorado Springs runners on second and third with still just one out. Pete Orr wouldn’t miss the opportunity to give his team the lead, lining the first pitch of the at-bat to centerfield to score both Murphy and Long and give s squad an early 4-2 lead.
The Sky Sox would make the lead stick as the second inning would see the last of the game’s scoring despite nine more combined hits to come in the final seven innings of play.
Thornburg would finish his day after 70 pitches due to pitch count limitations. He would allow two runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out two in three innings of work. Ariel Peńa would come on in relief of Thornburg, tossing one scoreless inning before handing the ball over to right-hander Josh Roenicke (1-0, 0.00) to start the fifth.
Roenicke made Sky Sox history as he toed the rubber for the first time in the 2015 season. With his first pitch to Omaha outfielder Moises Sierra, Roenicke became the first player to suit up for the Sox as an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers. He would back his historic appearance with a strong season debut, twirling four innings of scoreless ball on five hits and a walk while striking out three en route to the win.
Mortensen settled down after a rocky start to retire his last nine batters consecutively, finishing the night having allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
Omaha’s bullpen combination of Casey Coleman and Buddy Baumann would maintain the trend, keeping the Sky Sox off the board for the remaining three innings, allowing just one hit in that time.
A pivotal moment would come in the top of the seventh as, down by two, the Storm Chasers had runners on the corners with two-out. Already with a homer in the game, Adams would line Roenicke’s offering to left field in what looked to be a sure run-scoring extra-base hit. Shane Peterson would lay out, fully-extended to rob Adams of a potential game-tying hit and end the scoring threat.
Corey Knebel took the mound in the top of the ninth in a save opportunity, setting Omaha down in order on three consecutive strikeouts to nail down the 4-2 Sky Sox win. The save marks Knebel’s third of the young season.
The Sox have now won two in a row to improve their season record to 8-14. Drew Gagnon (101, 5.68) will look to secure a series victory for the Sox on Sunday afternoon against Omaha righty Aaron Brooks (1-2, 4.43) in the series finale at Security Service Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 PM MDT.