PAPILLION, Nebraska - The Round Rock Express (4-5) avoided a series sweep thanks to a 4-2 win over the Omaha Storm Chasers (3-4) on Friday night. E-Train 3B Will Middlebrooks finished the game with two RBI, including the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.
Express reliever LHP Wesley Wright (2-0, 0.00) earned the win after issuing just one walk in an otherwise perfect seventh inning of relief. Storm Chasers reliever RHP Kevin McCarthy (0-1, 9.00) took the loss by virtue of giving up both Round Rock runs on a total of four hits in the top of the eighth inning.
The E-Train washed away any lingering feelings about last night's one-hit shutout by scoring in the top of the first. 3B Drew Robinson led things off with a double, moved to third on a Preston Beck groundout, then raced home on an ensuing Middlebrooks groundout.
Omaha responded nearly immediately. CF Billy Burns worked a leadoff walk before moving to second on a Ramon Torres single. After taking third on a wild pitch, the speedy outfielder raced home on a Whit Merrifield groundout to level the contest at one. The Storm Chasers took their only lead of the night in the third inning as Torres singled then scored on a Merrifield double in the next at-bat.
The Express wasted no time evening things once again. In the top of the fourth inning, CF Jared Hoying collected a one-out single then promptly stole second base. RF Travis Snider scored his fellow outfielder with a fly ball that dropped in center field for a single.
Round Rock regained the lead in the eighth. 2B Luis Marte jumpstarted the inning with a single before Robinson doubled to put a pair of runners in scoring position. Two hitters later, Middlebrooks singled to send Marte home. Hoying followed up with another single that scored Robinson, extending his team's lead to 4-2, a score that held to be the final.
For the second night in a row, the Express received a solid performance from their starting pitcher. This time it was RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-0, 1.86) holding the Storm Chasers to just two runs, only one of which was earned, on a total of six hits in 5.2 innings of work. Storm Chasers starter RHP Kyle Zimmer (0-0, 3.86) was equally impressive, giving up two runs on four hits in 4.2 innings.
Round Rock's bullpen was magnificent in the win. RHP Jaye Chapman, Wright, RHP Keone Kela and RHP Preston Claiborne combined for 3.1 shutout innings, surrendering only two hits and a walk. Claiborne recorded a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth, earning his first save of the season.
The Express now head east for a quick three-game set with the Iowa Cubs. Saturday's series opener is set to feature Round Rock RHP Eddie Gamboa (0-0, 4.50) against Iowa RHP Williams Perez (0-0, 0.00). First pitch is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. The E-Train returns home on Tuesday, April 18 to host the Omaha Storm Chasers.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.