The Sky Sox put their last two nights behind them as the offense came alive in a 7-3 win over the Fresno Grizzlies before a crowd of 6,401 on Thursday night at Security Service Field.
Each starter would toss two clean innings before the Sky Sox broke through for the game’s first run in the bottom of the third. Matt Clark got the Sox started with a one-out double against Grizzlies starter and former big leaguer Dan Straily (4-4, 4.44) before Robinzon Diaz moved him to third on a slow rolling grounder down the third base line that stayed fair just long enough to bounce off the bag for a base hit. Matt Long would come to the plate with runners on the corners and one out. The outfielder continued to produce with an RBI sacrifice fly, bringing Clark home to give the Sox an early 1-0 lead.
Colorado Springs would head into the home fifth looking to break a 1-1 tie after Fresno got on the board in the top of the inning thanks to a Max Stassi solo shot to right-centerfield. The offense would break the tie in a big way, scoring five runs in the fifth to take a commanding 6-1 lead by inning’s end.
The Sox sent 10 batters to the plate in that explosive fifth inning, with the first six batters reaching safely en route to three quick runs. In fact, Robinzon Diaz, Long and Logan Schafer would record three consecutive doubles to ultimately chase Straily from the game with just one out in the innings. Diaz’s double plated Yadiel Rivera and Clark to give the Sox a then 3-1 lead. Schafer’s extended the lead to 4-1 just before Fresno reliever Richard Rodriguez took over on the mound.
Rodriguez quickly walked Chris Nelson before getting Pete Orr to fly out to right for the second out of the inning. After a double steal put Schafer and Nelson third and second respectively, Juan Centeno would find himself in his best run-producing situation since his return to Colorado Springs. The catcher did not miss his opportunity, lining a base hit over the leaping try of Grizzlies second baseman Nolan Fontana to score both runners and extend the Sky Sox lead to 6-1.
Fresno worked its way out of further trouble and promptly tacked on another run in the top of the sixth. The run was unearned however as Chris Nelson’s missed catch on an L.J. Hoes two-out liner extended Fresno’s turn at the plate. Right fielder Domingo Santana ripped a double down the left field line in the following at bat to cut the Grizzlies deficit to four. Sox starter Josh Roenicke (3-2, 4.35) settled down to retire Matt Dominguez on a groundout to short, ending his night with a 6-2 lead after six.
The right-hander would allow just two runs (one earned) on six hits while striking out one over six impressive innings of work. Roenicke did not issue a single free pass, the first time he has done so in a start this season.
The Sox would add one final run, scoring their seventh in the seventh thanks to a little small ball as Yadiel Rivera brought Orr home from third on an infield single to extend the lead to 7-2. Fresno added a final run of their own in the top of the eighth against Sox reliever Ariel Peńa as RBI machine Jon Singleton drove home Alex Presley with a run-scoring double to cut the deficit to four once again.
Colorado Springs’ bullpen would shut it down from there as recently called up reliever Jaye Chapman came on to toss a scoreless ninth. The right-hander would allow two base hits in his Sox debut while striking out one to secure the 7-3 victory for the home squad.
All but one Sox starter recorded a base hit in Thursday’s 15 hit performance with four collecting multi-hit games. Rivera, Diaz and Long led the way with three hits apiece. Diaz and Juan Centeno each drove home two in the strong offensive showing.
The Sky Sox improve to 21-32 with the win as they knock Fresno down to a 31-23 record.
The Sox will look to earn a series-split in Friday night’s series finale against the Fresno Grizzlies. Drew Gagnon (1-7, 7.91) takes the mound for Colorado Springs in a matchup against Fresno right-hander Alex White (1-4, 5.56) with first pitch set for 7:05 PM MDT at Security Service Field.