The Oklahoma RedHawks used a late innings rally to overcome an early 5-0 deficit and defeat the Round Rock Express 6-5 on Saturday night in Round Rock.
"As a team we have been getting a lot of base runners, but we just haven't got timely hits," right fielder Jason Botts said. "We knew we were going to have the chance to come back, it was just a matter of coming through in the situation to put some runs on the board."
Express starter Jared Gothreaux held the Redhawks in check early, while RedHawks starter Francisco Cruceta was struggling.
Cruceta worked out of trouble in the first two innings, before allowing two runs in the third, two more in the fifth and one in the sixth. He finished the evening allowing five runs on nine hits in 5.1 innings. He struck out seven while walking only one.
His opponent on the mound was having more luck, as Gothreaux threw five scoreless innings.
Shortstop Drew Meyer was one of the few players who wasn’t having trouble with Gothreaux. Meyer singled in the second inning, before doubling to center in the fourth.
"I was seeing the ball good tonight," Meyer said. "I really like playing here in Round Rock because I see the ball well. I missed some time in spring training and it took me about a week get my timing down."
Miguel Asencio replaced Gothreaux at the start of the sixth and the Oklahoma bats came alive. With one out in the seventh inning, Freddy Guzman was hit by a pitch. A single from Ramon Vazquez put runners on the corners before Victor Diaz's double drove in two. Botts kept the rally alive with a two-run homer to dead center field to bring the RedHawks to within a run at 5-4.
"I'm hitting about .150 right now so I was just looking to hit the ball," Botts said. "He left a low fastball out over the plate and I put a good swing on it."
Oklahoma tied the game in the eighth, when Diaz drove home Tug Hulett with a sacrifice fly to center field.
With the game tied at five, manager Bobby Jones summoned hard throwing Frank Francisco from the bullpen. Francisco, who had allowed no base hits and struck out nine coming into today's game, immediately got to work. Using a fastball that sat consistently at 94 mph and touched 96, he struck out the side in the eighth.
Marlon Byrd began the ninth with a double to centerfield, and then scored the go ahead run for the RedHawks on a single from catcher Guillermo Quiroz. The hit was Quiroz's second of the evening.
Now pitching with a 6-5 lead, Francisco immediately got into trouble in the bottom of the ninth. Francisco got ahead of leadoff man Josh Anderson, before hitting him on an 0-2 pitch. Francisco continued to make things interesting by walking Bruntlett and Astros’ top prospect Hunter Pence, who had homered earlier in the game, to load the bases.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Francisco beared down and got a pop up for the first out, before reaching back and striking out the final two hitters to seal the victory for the Redhawks. Francisco improved to 1-0 on the season. In six innings this season, he has yet to give up a hit, while striking out 14 and walking three.