ROUND ROCK, Texas - The Memphis Redbirds (81-54) mashed their way to an 8-4 victory over the Round Rock Express (62-73) on Wednesday night at Dell Diamond, leveling the three-game series 1-1.
Round Rock starter RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx (3-6, 5.68) was saddled with the loss after allowing five runs, four of them earned, on six hits and three walks over 5.1 innings. On the bright side, Bibens-Dirkx matched his second-highest strikeout total of the season with seven punchouts on the night. Memphis starter RHP Chris Ellis (6-4, 3.86) twirled 5.0 shutout frames while permitting just two hits and a walk to earn the win.
Opposite of last night's series opener, the Redbirds were the first team on the board in this one. In the top of the second, RF Randy Arozarena reached base on a fielder's choice after DH Alex Mejia 's leadoff walk. The next batter, CF Lane Thomas , connected on a two-run homer that put Memphis ahead 2-0.
The visitors tagged Bibens-Dirkx for another round-tripper in the third as SS Edmundo Sosa extended the 'Birds lead to 3-0 on his second homer of the series, a solo shot to left. Memphis pushed the gap to 4-0 in the next frame when Arozarena singled and later scored on a base hit by 3B Max Schrock .
LHP Brandon Mann took over on the hill for Bibens-Dirkx in the top of the sixth after the Express starter allowed a pair of Redbirds batters to reach base. With one out, Mann surrendered an infield single to Schrock before Sosa collected his second RBI of the contest on a sacrifice fly to right.
Trailing 5-0, Round Rock's bats manufactured their first offensive output in the bottom half of the sixth. CF Scott Heineman looped a one-out single into shallow center and scored from first when 1B Tommy Joseph punched an RBI double into the right-center gap to make it 5-1.
Memphis managed to produce three additional runs in the top of the eighth. E-Train reliever RHP Chris Jensen issued a leadoff walk to Arozarena prior to coughing up a two-run homer off the bat of 'Birds LF Wilfredo Tovar . A four-pitch walk by Sosa, a single by Edman, and an RBI single from 1B Rangel Ravelo would stretch the final score to 8-1 before the end of the side.
Attempting to pull off a miracle comeback, Round Rock narrowed the gap to 8-4 in the final frame. LF Willie Calhoun reached on an error, moved up to second on a single by Heineman, and eventually found himself at third when Joseph loaded the bases on a single of his own. With ducks on the pond and none out, C Tony Sanchez brought Calhoun home on a sacrifice fly to center. Two batters later, 2B Nick Noonan doubled home a pair of two-out runs. However, the rally would come to an end in the following at-bat when DH Nick Torres flew out to left.
The Express will do battle with the Redbirds once again on Thursday night in the final game at Dell Diamond this season. Round Rock RHP Chris Tillman (0-1, 12.60) is slated to face Memphis RHP Kevin Herget (9-10, 4.35) on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CDT.
For more information on the Express, visit RoundRockExpress.com or call (512) 255-2255. Keep up with the Express on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.