TACOMA, Washington - The Round Rock Express (15-21) and Tacoma Rainiers (22-12) split a doubleheader on Saturday night after Friday's game was postponed due to rain. Round Rock blanked Tacoma 5-0 in game one before the Rainiers rebounded to defeat the Express 8-1 in game two.
First up, Round Rock starter RHP Tyler Wagner (1-3, 6.95) dazzled while recording his first win of the season. The righty held Tacoma scoreless on just one hit and four walks while striking out two in five innings of work. Rainiers RHP Rob Whalen (0-1, 5.79) suffered the loss, surrendering five runs on five hits in six innings.
E-Train C Brett Nicholas put Round Rock on the board in the second. 1B Ronald Guzman lined a two-out single to left field before CF Jared Hoying followed up with a walk. Nicholas then stepped to the plate and smacked his first triple of the year, clearing the bases to give the Express a 2-0 lead.
Nicholas' hot bat struck again in the sixth. After Guzman walked and stole second base, Nicholas doubled to right-center field, extending the lead to 3-0. The inning continued as LF Cesar Puello walked. Washington native RF Travis Snider celebrated his return home with a two-run double, giving Round Rock a 5-0 edge.
Express RHP Jaye Chapman tossed a scoreless sixth inning before RHP James Dykstra made his Triple-A debut in the seventh. The righty allowed two hits before recovering to retire the final three batters in a row, sealing the win for the E-Train. The victory was Round Rock's 11th straight win in an opening game of a doubleheader, dating back to 2015.
Tacoma forced a split with an 8-1 win in game two. Round Rock starter RHP Dillon Gee (1-4, 5.30) was roughed up in the loss. He surrendered seven runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings of work. Gee struck out two and walked two. Rainiers reliever LHP Nick Hagadone (1-1, 4.26) picked up his first win of the year after 1.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
The Rainiers scored their first run of the day in the first inning. CF Boog Powell collected a leadoff walk then stole second base. 1B Daniel Vogelbach put his team on the board with an RBI single in the next at-bat. One inning later, LF Dario Pizzano lined a shot off the top of the wall in center field. The ball ricocheted away from Hoying, allowing Pizzano to score an inside-the-park home run. He became the first player to achieve that feat against Round Rock since Colorado Springs' Dan Wheeler did so on April 12, 2014.
The Rainiers doubled their lead in the third. Powell collected a leadoff single before Vogelbach stepped to the plate and launched a two-run homer, extending the Tacoma advantage to 4-0.
In the fifth inning, C Steven Baron and Powell teamed up for a pair of singles. Hoying then committed a fielding error in center field to load the bases. A Vogelbach fielder's choice scored Baron, then DH Mike Zunino worked a walk to re-load the bases. A D.J. Peterson single scored Powell and chased Gee from the contest. RHP Brady Dragmire entered from the bullpen, allowing a run-scoring fielder's choice to Pizzano before retiring 2B Tyler Smith . However, the damage was done as the Rainiers extended their lead to 7-0.
In the sixth, LHP Wesley Wright surrendered a pair of two-out doubles to Powell and O'Neill, allowing the home side to pad their lead to 8-0. Round Rock's only run came in the top of the seventh. SS Jurickson Profar led off the frame with a double before Hoying collected an infield single to put runners on the corners. Nicolas then scored Profar with a fielder's choice. The late rally fizzled out as Puello struck out to end the game.
Round Rock and Tacoma are set to wrap up their four-game series on Sunday afternoon. Express RHP Anthony Bass (0-0, 1.35) is scheduled to face Rainiers RHP Andrew Moore (1-0, 4.76). First pitch at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma is slated for 3:35 p.m. central time.
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