Sky Sox win 10-3 over Redbirds

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Sky Sox looked to be outmatched early in what would turn into a 10-3 come-from-behind victory against the Memphis Redbirds before a crowd of 4,207 at Security Service Field on Tuesday night.

Memphis left-hander John Gast would carve through the Sox offense in his first four innings of work, allowing just three hits while striking out a whopping seven batters over those frames.

In his fourth appearance for Colorado Springs, Tyler Thornburg tossed six strong innings of two-run ball on seven hits and a walk, tallying four strikeouts along the way. The two runs allowed by the right-hander came on a third inning mistake pitch to Redbirds right-fielder Stephen Piscotty, who drove the first offering of the at-bat over the left field wall for a two-run home run that scored Ed Easley and gave Memphis it’s lone lead of the ballgame at 2-0.

The Sky Sox would finally break through against Gast in the home fifth. In the middle of a perfect night at the plate, Ben Guez would lead off the fifth with a bunt single and advance to third on a Gast throwing error. The game’s other offensive hero, Matt Long followed with a sacrifice fly to center to plate Guez and cut the Colorado Springs deficit to one.

Still pitching effectively, Gast remained on the mound for Memphis in the sixth and quickly retired the inning’s first two batters. The turning point of the game would come in the very next at-bat, courtesy of Matt Clark. After immediately falling behind 0-2, the slugging first baseman with a flare for the dramatic would belt Gast’s next pitch an estimated 443 feet over the right field fence, knotting the ballgame at two through six to give the Sox new life.

Scoring in their third-consecutive inning, Colorado Springs tacked on two more runs in the home seventh off of Redbirds reliever Keith Butler (0-2, 9.00) to take their first lead off the ballgame. After a Pete Orr triple and Ben Guez walk opened the inning, Matt Long would line a base-hit to right field to score Orr. In his first at-bat since being put in the game, Donnie Murphy followed with an RBI groundout to short, giving the Sox a 4-2 lead.

Jed Bradley (1-2, 9.45) came on in relief of Thornburg to start the seventh inning. After a scoreless seventh, the left-hander would allow his first two batters to reach in the eighth before being lifted for Michael Kirkman. Rick Sweet’s other lefty reliever worked into, and out of, more trouble after taking over with two on and no out. Kirkman would walk his first batter to load the bases before striking out third baseman Scott More for the first out of the frame. Kirkman could not keep Memphis off the board however, hitting shortstop Greg Garcia with a pitch to force home a run, cutting the Sky Sox lead to 4-3. The 6-foot-4 veteran would escape the inning without further damage to maintain the slim one-run lead. Bradley would finish with an interesting line en route to picking up the win, tossing 1+ innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk.

Clinging to a one-run lead, the Sox lineup poured on the offense in the home eighth, scoring six runs on four hits and three walks in the frame. Pete Orr notched his 15th, and most painful, RBI of the season on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch before Ben Guez followed with a two-run double off the right-centerfield wall. Matt Long would cap his day in the next at-bat, plating Orr and the speedy Guez on a bloop single to shallow right, giving him four RBI on the game and his team a late 9-3 lead. Luis Sardinas added an RBI groundout to round out the scoring. Memphis lefty Nick Greenwood would be charged with all of the runs scored in the inning after being relieved by right-hander Kurt Heyer to limit the damage.

With a 10-3 lead, Sox closer Corey Knebel took the hill in a non-save situation to close out the game. Knebel allowed one hit while notching a strikeout in a quick ninth, securing the ballgame for Colorado Springs in a thrilling comeback victory. With the Sox win, Memphis and Colorado Springs both move to 12-20 on the season.

Drew Gagnon (1-3, 5.34) and Redbirds righty Zach Petrick (0-3, 5.76) will face off in game two of this four-game series on Wednesday morning as the Sky Sox look for their first three-game winning streak of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 11:05 AM MDT

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