Oklahoma City, Okla. - The Rock Express (69-73) overcame a late two-run deficit and rallied for five runs in the ninth to shock the Oklahoma City RedHawks (76-65) 6-3 before 10,283 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark Saturday night.
The loss snapped the RedHawks' six-game winning streak. If Albuquerque wins its game tonight against Omaha, the Isotopes will clinch the American Southern Division and eliminate the RedHawks from postseason contention.
Since RedHawks closer Jose Valdez was promoted earlier in the day to the Houston Astros, the RedHawks turned to Chuckie Fick to try and close out a 3-1 game in the ninth.
Fick (2-2) hit Matt Kata with a pitch, and Ryan Spilborghs followed with an RBI double to center field that nearly was a game-tying home run. Yangervis Solarte singled and Mike Bianucci walked to load the bases.
Brian Sanches relieved Fick and struck out Koyie Hill. After spoiling a few pitches while down in the count, Julio Borbon hit a two-run single to center field to give the Express the lead. Luis Hernandez stepped up next and delivered a two-run triple to make it 6-3.
The RedHawks could not answer in the bottom of the ninth. Willie Eyre (1-2) retired the side in order to deal a crushing blow to the RedHawks playoff hopes.
Eyre and fellow Express reliever Neal Cotts combined to retire the 11 hitters of the game, striking out five.
Round Rock used an error and a wild pitch to take an early 1-0 lead, but the RedHawks jumped in front in the second. Jose Martinez hit a two-run triple, and Brian Bixler collected a two-out RBI single to make it 3-1.
The RedHawks could not add to their lead thereafter. Their best chance came in the sixth when they loaded the bases with one out, but Cotts struck out Marc Krauss and Carlos Corporan to get out of the jam.
Round Rock's late comeback also spoiled a great start by RedHawks pitcher Jarred Cosart. Over six innings, Cosart allowed one unearned run on four hits. He struck out and walked three each. Cosart finished 2012 by allowing just one earned run over his final 18 innings.
The RedHawks and Express continue their series Sunday evening at 6:05 p.m. Tickets are available at the box office on S. Mickey Mantle Drive, by calling (405) 218-1000, or through okcredhawks.com
Live coverage begins at 5:35 p.m. on an AM 1340 The Game, 1340thegame.com, or through the free IHeartRadio mobile app.