Ben Paulsen made the Triple-A All-Star Game on Thursday morning.
On Thursday night, he showed why.
Paulsen doubled in a run, twice reached base safely and made a pair of key plays at first base as the Sky Sox topped Oklahoma City 6-2 in front of 8,813 at Security Service Field.
The crowd helped the Sky Sox close their homestand with an eight-day attendance record of 51,919.
As for Paulsen, the plate appearance that set the tone for his night didn’t even count as an official at-bat.
He fell behind 0-2, then fouled off four pitches before working a walk, his 45th of the season and five more than he’s had in any other year.
The walk helped the Sky Sox to two runs and helped run RedHawks starting pitcher Jake Buchanan’s pitch count to 40 in the first inning (he threw 101 in six innings).
“You can see what the pitchers has,” Paulsen said. “He threw a lot of pitches, so you can see what his fastball does and what his curveball does when it breaks. Its one of those things, the more pitches you see, the better you are.”
That kind of sums up Paulsen’s season. Always an above-average hitter, he’s elevated his game this year and entered Thursday second in the Pacific Coast League in extra-base hits (41), total bases (164) and third in doubles (23).
Paulsen is batting .306 with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs.
“I’ve been working with (Sky Sox manager) Glenallen Hill mentally and physically in the cage with (hitting coach) Dave Hajek,” Paulsen said. “It’s been like a two-headed monster with those guys. It’s helped tremendously.
“My whole approach is different. I’m just being more patient and seeing more strikes in the zone. It doesn’t sound right, but that’s what I’m trying to do is see more strikes in the zone.”
Paulsen was an all-star in the Double-A Texas League in 2012 and 2011.
He can now add the Triple-A honor to his résumé.
“It’s a great honor,” Paulsen said. “It’s exciting, and I couldn’t’ have done it without my teammates getting on base for me and helping me out.
Oklahoma City caught the Sky Sox after that two-run first with a two-spot of its own against Brett Tomko in the third. Tomko went six innings, giving up two runs on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
Colorado Springs added two more in each the sixth and seventh.
Then came fireworks for a happy, packed house.