COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Colorado Springs Sky Sox (65-71) held off repeated comeback attempts by the Las Vegas 51s (78-59) as they won a wild 13-12 contest on Tuesday night at Security Service Field in front of 7,154 fans.
Tyler Chatwood started the game for the Sox on a Major League rehab assignment and looked very good as he held Las Vegas in check through 5.1 innings of work. He gave up one run on five hits while walking two and striking out four. Chatwood exited the game after reaching his pitch limit and had the Sox ahead 6-1 in what seemed like a comfortable lead. It would prove to be anything but easy.
A four-run second inning for the Sky Sox would help catapult them to their early lead. Tim Wheeler had an RBI single in the frame and Josh Rutledge plated two more on a bases loaded double with a third run scoring on a fielding error by the 51s’ left fielder.
The 6-1 lead lasted until the 7th when the game got crazy. Vegas plated three in the top half of the inning on an RBI triple by Brandon Hicks, a wild pitch and a fielding error. The Sky Sox answered with three runs of their own in the bottom half on a clutch, two-out, bases clearing triple by Drew Garcia. It was the team’s 70th triple of the year which is the most in professional baseball.
Another five run lead at 9-4 would quickly disappear as the resilient 51s scored five runs in the top of the eighth to tie the game at 9-9. In the inning, Manny Corpas (3-3) retired the first two batters but five straight two-out hits for Vegas closed the gap. Kirk Nieuwenhuis drove in two with a single and Mike Baxter delivered the big blow with a three-run homer to deep right.
Not to be outdone, the Sky Sox retook the lead in the bottom of the 8th off of reliever D.J. Mitchell (6-5). Wheeler led off the inning with a single to bring Hernan Iribarren to the plate. After failing to get a bunt down on the first pitch, the Sox put the hit-and-run on and Iribarren turned on an inside pitch and launched a two-run shot to right. It was Iribarren’s first homer of the season and just the 32nd of his nine-year career which spans 3,896 at bats. The scoring continued with a sac fly by Reid Brignac and then a solo blast by Ben Paulsen. Paulsen’s homer was to dead center off the batter’s eye and was his team-leading 16th bomb of the year.
With the way this game had gone, you could certainly sense that Las Vegas wasn’t going to go down quietly in the ninth despite trailing once again 13-9. Steven Hensley came on in relief of Corpas and the 51s greeted him with a double and a single to make it a 13-10 game. Hensley then walked the next two batters to load the bases before striking out Ruben Tejada for the first out. A wild pitch scored a run and made it 13-11 and another walk loaded the bases once again. Zach Lutz made it a one-run game at 13-12 with a sac fly to center but Hensley was able to get Eric Campbell to ground out to second to finally end the game.
Tomorrow evening the Sky Sox and 51s will play their second double header in three days as they make up games that were snowed out back in April. Game one will feature RH Armando Galarraga (0-2, 6.46) for the Sox versus RH Jacob deGrom (4-2, 4.40) while game two will pit RH Cory Riordan (4-4, 5.48) against RH Daryl Thompson (1-0, 0.00). Game time for the first game is scheduled for 4:35 PM.