SALT LAKE CITY, Utah - The Round Rock Express (38-26) settled for a series split against the Salt Lake Bees (29-34) after a dramatic ninth inning rally fell just short in a 9-7 loss in Monday night's series finale at Smith's Ballpark. Round Rock 1B AJ Reed homered for the third game in a row, but the blast wasn't enough to give the Express a series victory.
E-Train RHP Brandon Bielak (0-2, 13.11) suffered his second straight defeat after allowing five runs on four hits in 4.1 innings of work. The Triple-A rookie recorded seven strikeouts but walked five in the loss. On the winning side, Salt Lake LHP Patrick Sandoval (2-2, 5.18) held Round Rock to four runs, only three of which were earned, on six hits in 5.0 innings.
The Bees opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning as LF Taylor Ward led off with a single prior to walks by 3B Matt Thaiss , 2B Jose Rojas and DH Jarrett Parker in a sequence that led to a run. A two-run double off the bat of SS Kaleb Cowart then made it 3-0.
Round Rock rallied to tie the game at three over the next two frames. LF Taylor Jones led off the second with a double before scoring on a Nick Tanielu double. An inning later, 3B Alex De Goti and RF Kyle Tucker teamed up for a pair of doubles that brought Round Rock within 3-2, then Jones singled home the game-tying run.
The Express took a brief lead in the fifth thanks to a De Goti single followed by a Jones walk. An ensuing Rojas fielding error allowed De Goti to race home with the go-ahead run.
However, the Bees got the last laugh, dropping a four-spot in the bottom of the frame to open a 7-4 lead. The inning began with back-to-back walks by CF Michael Hermosillo and 1B Jared Walsh and continued as Rojas scored a run with a double. Two hitters later, Cowart broke the 4-4 tie with a two-run single. Consecutive base hits by RF Brennon Lund and C Roberto Pena extended the gap to 7-4.
Both teams traded solo home runs in the sixth as Reed blasted his ninth of the season in the top of the frame before Thaiss answered with a bomb of his own in the home half. The Bees tacked on what proved to be a crucial insurance run in the seventh thanks to singles by Lund, Ward and Hermosillo.
Round Rock attempted a dramatic rally in the ninth as Rojas tallied a leadoff single prior to a Jones walk. Following two consecutive outs, Reed walked to load the bases and bring the go-ahead run to the plate. SS Anibal Sierra delivered with a two-run single, however Bees RHP Luke Bard recovered to strike out E-Train C Jamie Ritchie to preserve the 9-7 win for his team.
After a league-wide offday on Tuesday, the Express return home on Wednesday, June 12 to open a seven-game homestand with a four-game set against the Reno Aces (Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate). First pitch in the series opener at Dell Diamond is set for 7:05 p.m.
For more information on the Express, visit RRExpress.com or call (512) 255-2255. Keep up with the Express on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and join the conversation during our historic 20th season using #20STROng.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.