The Round Rock Express bounced back from yet another one-run loss with a 4-2 win in their series opener against the Omaha Storm Chasers.
The Express were finally able to scratch a win against the Storm Chasers this season after being swept in last week’s four game series at Werner Park in Papillion, Neb.
Neil Ramirez pitched his best game of this early season and earned his first win, holding the Omaha Storm Chasers to just four hits in six scoreless innings.
Tommy Mendonca gave Ramirez early run support by finding a hole in the right side of the infield and scoring Matt Kata for the first run of the game in the second inning. Kata led-off the inning with a walk and quickly stole second base to place himself in scoring position.
After giving up a hard-hit single to Clint Robinson to start the fourth frame, Ramirez responded by retiring the next three batters to hold onto a 1-0 lead. The Express offense jumped on Omaha starter Nathan Adcock in the inning to scratch across a couple more runs.
“It feels great man,” said Ramirez (1-1), whose fastball was clocking in around the low 90s in the game. “It was good to kind of get a little revenge.”
Just like the second inning, Matt Kata sparked a rally with a lead-off double down the right field line. Joey Butler then sent a single between first and second base that resulted with runners at the corners for the Express. Yangervis Solarte drove in Kata on a weak fly ball to left-center field that should have probably been caught.
Mendonca was hit by a pitch to load the bases with the Express up 2-0 and still without an out in the inning. Adcock was able to limit the damage after a coach’s mound visit with a double play, keeping the Storm Chasers within three runs after four innings.
Aaron Heilman pitched his fourth hold of the season, allowing just one unearned run in two relief innings.
With their lead trimmed to 3-1, the Express received an insurance run on a solo home run by Butler to the deepest part of the ballpark in left-center field.
Tanner Scheppers fought of an Omaha rally to earn his third save, stranding a man at first after having given up a run.
Ramirez struck out four Storm Chasers in route to lowering his ERA from 5.00 to 3.00. It comes as a welcome change for a pitcher who struggled to elevate his game last season.
“Last year, I kind of ran into some shoulder trouble at the end of the year, and I think it was a combination of things: doing too much, getting out of sync with mechanics a bit,” Ramirez said. “This year, I’m still trying to work hard but at the same time work smarter.”
The four-game series continues Wednesday as the Express will send right-hander Greg Reynolds to the mound with a 5.25 ERA and also in search of his first solid start.
The 5-8 Express are now 3-2 at home having split their opening series with the Iowa Cubs.
Published on Wednesday, April, 18, 2012 as: Express beat Omaha with bats, break string of seven consecutive single-run games.