MEMPHIS - A two homer performance by Drew Garcia wasn’t enough for the Sky Sox (11-15) as they dropped Thursday’s day game, 7-5, to the Memphis Redbirds (13-14) and split the four-game series.
A three-run eighth inning was the difference in the game to give the Birds the victory. Entering his sixth inning in relief, LHP Yohan Flande gave up a lead-off homer to C Audry Perez to tie the game at 5-5.
RHP Greg Burke then came into the game with a runner on base and no outs, but couldn’t get out of the inning giving up two runs (one credited to Flande) on back-to-back singles.
The Sox had an opportunity as they put two men on to begin the ninth, but a double play and a strikeout quickly halted any comeback and sealed the win for Memphis.
For the third time in the series, the Sky Sox struck first in the opening frame thanks to a home run ball, and on Thursday, it was Garcia’s solo-shot with one out that put the Sox on the board first.
But LHP Pedro Hernandez had a rough outing on the mound for Colorado Springs and gave up two runs on a hit, two walks and a hit by pitch in just the first inning. Hernandez then gave up a third run in the second courtesy of an RBI-single by Stephen Piscotty.
The 25-year-old lasted only two innings, while giving up three runs on three hits, three walks and one punchout and the Redbirds forced him to throw 56 pitches.
LHP Yohan Flande came in relief of Hernandez to start the third inning and was solid through his five innings of work until he gave up two runs in the eighth. He finished his outing allowing five hits, three runs, while punching out three and walking one.
Trailing by two with one out in the fifth, Garcia did it again for the Sox hitting a two-run shot to left to start a big four-run inning for Colorado Springs.
The Sky Sox would hit for the cycle as a team in the inning, thanks to Kyle Parker’s triple, Ben Paulsen’s single and Michael McKenry’s second double of the game.
But the Birds scratched a run out in the bottom half of the inning from a sacrifice fly by Pete Kozma.
Garcia finished with his first three-hit game of the season, and his second three-RBI game of the season.
Four other Sky Sox players also picked up multi-hit games in Thursday’s loss. McKenry, 3B Ryan Wheeler, LF Kyle Parker and 1B Ben Paulsen each had two hits.
For the Redbirds, RF Stephen Piscotty had two hits and two RBI.
Both teams will now travel to Colorado Springs to begin another four-game set beginning 6:35 p.m. (MT) Friday night. LHP Christian Friedrich (1-2, 5.74 ERA) will make his sixth start of the year squaring off against RHP Zach Petrick (0-1, 5.73 ERA).
· Drew Garcia’s two home runs Thursday was the third time a Sky Sox player has had multiple long balls in a game this season. Ben Paulsen hit two homers on April 15th against Oklahoma City, and Jason Pridie had two home runs on April 10th against Round Rock.