Outfielder Kent Matthes smashed two home runs, but the Sacramento River Cats (73-59) scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to overtake the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (62-67), 7-5 in the first game of their five-game series at Security Service Field on Bark in the Park Night.
The Sky Sox jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the third inning when catcher Jose Gonzalez scored on a sacrifice fly by Hernan Iribarren. After the River Cats took the lead in the top of the fifth inning, on an RBI double by David Freitas and a RBI single by Daric Barton, the Sky Sox tied it up in the bottom of the fifth. The tying run scored on a RBI single by Tim Wheeler that brought home Jaron Shepherd, who walked and then stole his first ever base in a Sky Sox uniform.
In the top of the sixth inning reliever Rob Scahill relieved lefty Nick Schmidt who continued his recent success as a starting pitcher. Schmidt finished the day only allowing two runs on five hits in five innings while striking out five. In his last three starts Schmidt has pitched a combined 12.2 innings and has only allowed three runs on eight hits with 11 strikeouts.
With the game tied at two, Colorado Springs seized the lead in the sixth when Ben Paulsen and Matthes belted back-to-back home runs off of Travis Banwart. The back-to-back blasts marked the fourth time the Sky Sox have accomplished the feat this season and their third time at home. It is also the third time Paulsen has been involved in hitting back-to-back home runs.
Mike McClendon took the mound for the Sky Sox in the eighth, but loaded the bases when he allowed two straight singles and then hit Michael Choice. The River Cats tied the game up at five when Michael Taylor struck a two-run single.
The game seemed destined to head into the ninth inning tied at five when Evan Scribner (W, 3-1) recorded the first two outs of the inning, but Matthes stepped up to the plated and smacked his second home run of the game. With his second blast of the game, the outfielder has now hit six of his eight home runs against Sacramento and is the first Sky Sox player since JR Phillips in 1999, to have a two homer game against an opponent at home and a two homer game against that same opponent on the road in the same season.
Matthes' dinger gave the Sox the 6-5 lead and brought out closer Logan Kensing (L, 2-5) from the bullpen. The right-handed closer started off the inning on a positive note when he got the first two outs of the inning. He then issued Barton's league-leading 87th walk of the season. After another walk, Choice hit a two-run double to give the River Cats the commanding 7-5 lead. Colorado Springs went quietly in the bottom of the inning to end their three game home winning streak.
Tomorrow the two teams are back at it at 6:35 PM MT when righty Armando Galarraga (0-2, 4.77) faces off against right-hander Arnold Leon (3-3, 3.93).
Sky Sox Notes: The only other instance of a Sky Sox player having a two homer game against an opponent at home and then a two home game against that same opponent on the road in the same year was Alan Cockrell against Tacoma in 1996…Despite losing today the Sky Sox are still seven games over .500 at home and have scored 29 more runs at home than they have on the road.