COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — The Sky Sox flexed their muscle early and again in the latter innings as the offense’s four-home run effort helped power Colorado Springs past the Memphis Redbirds in an 8-7 victory before a crowd of 6,208 at Security Service Field on Thursday.
After Memphis put a run on the board in the very first innings, the Sox offense would tee-off on Redbirds left-hander, and Cardinals top-pitching prospect, Marco Gonzales in the games first two frames to take a quick six run lead.
Colorado Springs would benefit from a Ben Guez two-run shot in the first before Shane Peterson opened lead off the home second with a solo blast to left field for an opposite field home run, giving his team a 3-0 lead through six batters. Over the next five batters in the frame, the offense would load the bases with two outs. Nevin Ashley came up with the sacks full of Sox and launched a high fly ball over the left field fence on the first pitch of the at-bat, giving his team it’s first grand slam of 2015 while extending the lead to 7-1 after two innings.
Gonzales would settle down after the ugly start, tossing two more innings and allowing just two more base runners in that time. In all, the Colorado native would finish the day having allowed seven runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two over four innings of work.
The Redbirds would pull themselves from the early 7-1 deficit, chipping away at the Colorado Springs lead with a big four-run inning against Sox starter Josh Roenicke in the third and two more against reliever Michael Kirkman in the sixth.
Roenicke pitched strongly outside of the problematic fourth, where all nine batters in the Memphis lineup reached base safely on four base hits and two walks. The veteran reliever-turned-starter tossed 4.2 innings of five run ball on seven hits and three walks, striking out six Redbirds along the way.
With the score knotted at seven after six thanks to Dan Johnson’s sixth inning two-run triple to the right-centerfield gap, Rob Wooten (2-0, 4.82) took the hill for a scoreless seventh to preserve the tie and give the Sox a chance to pull away late.
Groundouts by Peter Orr and Matt Long opened the seventh, bringing Guez to the plate with two out against Memphis right-hander Tyler Waldron (0-3, 4.79). Having just missed his second home run of the day on a deep fly ball caught at the left-centerfield wall by Rafael Ortega in the home fourth, the hot-hitting Guez would not miss his chance at redemption. The outfielder would crush Waldron’s 2-2 offering an estimated 445 feet over the left field wall, just inside the foul pole to give the Sky Sox the late 8-7 lead.
Right-handers David Goforth and Corey Knebel would finish out the ballgame for Colorado Springs as each pitch a scoreless inning with one strikeout over the eight and ninth. Knebel notched his sixth save of the season en route to securing the 8-7 win.
With the Sky Sox victory, Colorado Springs and Memphis finish the day with identical 13-21 records.
The Sox will look to secure the series on Friday night as Tyler Cravy (2-4, 5.40) leads his squad against Redbirds righty Boone Whiting (0-1, 7.36) in the four-game series-finale. First pitch is slated for 6:35 PM MDT at Security Service Field.