Sky Sox lose 4-3 in 11 innings

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — On the heels of consecutive rain-shortened games, the Sky Sox and Oklahoma City Dodgers did their best to make up for lost innings in Colorado Springs’ 11-inning, 4-3 loss in the series finale before a crowd of 3,694 at Security Service Field on Wednesday afternoon.

Continuing another recent trend, the Sky Sox offense struck for the game’s first run in the bottom of the second against OKC starter Ian Thomas. It was the third straight game that the Sox scored a run in the second to take an early lead. Robinzon Diaz and Logan Schafer got the sox going with back-to-back one out singles that put runners on the corners for the consistently productive Yadiel Rivera. The shortstop would reach first safely on a fielder’s choice throwing error by Thomas, allowing Diaz to scoot home from third with ease. The Dodgers lefty would work out of further trouble to end the second with his team trailing by one. Thomas settled down and would allow just two more base runners over his final four innings of work, finishing his day with six innings of one-run ball under his belt.

Sox starter Drew Gagnon was nearly as impressive in his turn on the mound, allowing just two runs on eight hits and a walk over six innings of work while striking out three. The right-hander cruised through three before stumbling slightly in the top of the fourth. Gagnon gave up his only two runs and the Sox lead in the frame thanks to a leadoff double by top prospect Corey Seager followed by one-out RBIs on an Austin Barnes triple and Scott Schebler single.

Oklahoma City held the 2-1 lead until the home seventh when Colorado Springs broke out for a two spot of their own against Dodgers reliever Daniel Coulombe. Rivera once again came through for the Sox, plating Robinzon Diaz from third on a fielder’s choice groundout to knot the game at two. Donnie Murphy followed with a productive groundout, allowing Rivera to advance 90 feet and give Matt Long a chance at taking the lead for the home side. Long delivered an RBI single to score Rivera and regain the Sky Sox one-run lead at 3-2.

Rob Wooten came on in the eighth for reliever David Goforth who tossed a scoreless seventh to keep the Sox in the ballgame. Wooten was not welcomed kindly as a Rivera error allowed leadoff man Hector Olivera to reach base before Seager’s second double of the game drove in the Cuban import to tie the contest for the third time. The righty would work out of the seventh allowing just the one unearned run but the damage had been done.

The Dodgers sent two more left-handers to the bump over the next 3.1 innings, making it four consecutive used on the day by OKC manager Damon Berryhill. Ryan Buchter and David Huff (3-0, 2.08) combined to keep the Sox offense off the board through the critical 8th, 9th and 10th innings, leaving their own offense the opportunity to steal an extra-inning win. Jaye Chapman and Michael Kirkman teamed up to shutout OKC over the ninth and tenth innings with each collecting two strikeouts in their lone frames.

Wirfin Obispo (0-1, 5.40) was the sixth and final pitcher used by Sox manager Rick Sweet and despite his best efforts; the journeyman reliever could not keep the Dodgers from taking the late lead. The righty walked the 11th inning leadoff man in Brian Burgamy before collecting three straight outs to end the inning. Unfortunately for Obispo, Burgamy would make it all the way to third with just one out on a sac bunt by Luis Mateo and a wild pitch before pinch-hitter O’Koyea Dickson drove his fellow outfielder home on a sacrifice fly to left field. Obispo struck out leadoff hitter Darnell Sweeney to end the inning in the following at-bat but not before Oklahoma City scored what would be the game-winner.

Colorado Springs posed its greatest late-inning threat in the home 11th as a Robinzon Diaz double and Logan Schafer walk set up the Sox with a chance to send fans home happy after a long day at the ballpark. Rivera followed with a one-out groundout, advancing both runners into scoring position with two away and Pete Orr coming to the plate. In the most pivotal moment of the day, Orr lined a ball that looked to be ticketed for centerfield before it deflected off the leg of Dodgers closer Juan Gonzalez into the glove of Seager at shortstop. The hustling Orr would be thrown out by a few steps to end the ballgame on a play that simply didn’t go the Sox way. Gonzalez earned his second save of the season to secure the Dodgers’ 4-3, series-clinching win.

Colorado Springs collected nine hits, six of which came from three-hit games by Diaz and Schafer. The Sox fall to 26-38 with the difficult loss as the division-leading Dodgers improve to 43-22.

The Sky Sox will look to get back in the win column on Thursday night as they welcome the New Orleans Zephyrs to town for the first of a four-game set. Tyler Cravy (7-4, 3.36) leads the charge against Zephyrs lefty Adam Conley (5-2, 2.77) with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM MDT at Security Service Field.

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