ROUND ROCK, Texas - The Round Rock Express (0-3) fell 7-5 to the Sacramento River Cats (3-0) in a heartbreaking game three of the Pacific Coast League Championship Series. Round Rock took a late lead, but Sacramento rallied to secure their spot in the Triple-A National Championship game.
Express RHP Carson LaRue (0-1, 3.86) suffered the loss after surrendering two runs on two hits and three walks in a 4.2-inning appearance out of the bullpen. On the winning side, River Cats SHP Pat Venditte (1-0, 0.00) earned the win after tossing a scoreless inning of relief.
In his first rehab appearance, Houston Astros SS Carlos Correa went 1-2 with a single and two walks, one of which was intentional.
Round Rock quickly opened scoring in the first as Correa worked a walk but was erased at second when 2B Jack Mayfield reached on a fielder's choice the next at-bat. Moments later, 1B Taylor Jones doubled in Mayfield from first to give the E-Train an early lead.
Sacramento responded in the following inning. RF Joe McCarthy worked a walk to open the frame and later advanced on a Zach Houchins single. After LF Jacob Heyward grounded into a double play that allowed McCarthy to reach third, River Cats C Ronnie Freeman drew a walk. 2B Levi Michael and SS Abiatal Avelino then teamed up for a pair of RBI singles that gave Sacramento a 2-1 lead.
Facing a one-run deficit, DH Drew Ferguson immediately responded with a game-tying home run.
In the third Sacramento DH Francisco Pena and McCarthy each singled before a wild pitch pushed advanced the pair to second and third respectively before Heyward singled the pair to put Sacramento ahead 4-2. However, Jones crushed a two-run bomb, scoring Mayfield, to level the score yet again.
After the River Cats and Express exchanged three scoreless innings, Round Rock drove in the crucial tiebreaking run in the seventh. C Jamie Ritchie worked a walk and hustled to second on a Ronnie Dawson single. The next at-bat, RF Chas McCormick singled and advanced to second while Dawson moved to third as Ritchie was called out trying to advance on the play. With first base empty, the River Cats opted to intentionally walk Correa to pitch to Mayfield. Only five pitches later, Mayfield drew a bases-loaded walk to break the tie and give Round Rock a 5-4 lead.
Three consecutive walks in the top of the eighth came back to burn the Express. With the bases loaded, Avelino singled home two runners before a Mike Gerber groundout scored a run to push the River Cats ahead 7-5. The two-run lead was ultimately enough to secure the victory and send the River Cats to Memphis for the Triple-A National Championship game.
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.
Round Rock Express Baseball, owned and operated by Ryan Sanders Baseball, LP, is the proud Triple-A Affiliate of the Houston Astros and a member of the Pacific Coast League.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.