April 11, 2013
Glenallen Hill often notes how he’s essentially seen about all that baseball has to offer.
But the Sky Sox manager, a lifer in the game, said he’d never seen this.
Colorado Springs came up with two walk-off victories in sweeping a doubleheader against Tucson on Thursday, completing a 4-3 homestand in which three of its victories came in the final at-bat.
Ryan Wheeler crushed a solo home run to right field to give the Sky Sox a 5-4 win in the opener, and Charlie Blackmon’s two-run triple completed a three-run rally to give them a 4-3 win in the second game.
“I think it just shows how good this team is,” said Wheeler, whose only other walk-off home run came in High-A ball in Arizona’s system. “The second game we were dead offensively and we kind of turned the switch on.”
The Sky Sox didn’t score until the sixth inning in the second game. Tucson built a 3-0 lead and was still up by two going into the seventh (both games were scheduled for seven innings).
“I think historically when you win the first game of a doubleheader, the second game can be kind of flat,” Hill said.
The winning rally started with a Tyler Colvin single, was aided by poor decision by Tucson pitcher Miles Mikolas to unsuccessfully throw to second for a force on a short ground ball to the mound and ended when Blackmon’s line drive to right center squirted through the gap to allow the trail runner, leadoff hitter Tim Wheeler, to come around from first.
“I was scoring him no matter what,” Hill said. “He was getting thrown out at the plate.”
The first game saw the Sky Sox escape after twice squandering leads. Staked to a three-run lead after the first inning, starter Christian Friedrich gave up three unearned runs in the second.
The Sky Sox again took the lead on a RBI single from Nolan Arenado – the Rockies' top prospect went 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs and two walks in the doubleheader – but Tucson answered with a run in its next time up.
That set the stage for Wheeler in the seventh.
“I felt powerful the whole day,” said the 10th-rated prospect in Colorado’s system, who was robbed of extra bases earlier in the game by one of Tucson center fielder Daniel Robertson’s many catches at or near the wall. “I was seeing the ball well. When I hit it I knew it was gone. So it was exciting.”
The Sky Sox play four games in Las Vegas and four in Reno before returning April 20.
“We’ve got good energy going,” Wheeler said. “I know guys were excited to go to Vegas anyway, but to do it on a couple of wins makes it a lot better.”