June 13, 2009
It's not possible to pitch more effectively in a doubleheader split than the Sky Sox did on Saturday.
But it was a split all the same.
After Adam Eaton and Ben Julianel combined to shut out Las Vegas in a 5-0 victory to open the day, Brandon Hynick became a hard-luck loser as Colorado Springs was held scoreless for the first time this season, falling 1-0.
Both games were seven-inning contests in front of a crowd of 3,476 that dealt with pesky rains that moved in and out throughout the evening.
"Only giving up one run in 14 innings is pretty impressive," Sky Sox manager Stu Cole said.
The 51s didn't put a runner on third base until three walks - one intentional - led to the winning run on a sacrifice fly in the 14th inning of the day. The surprise pitching performances came after Las Vegas scored 23 runs in splitting the first two games of the series.
"Both games I think the catchers called good games and I think the pitchers were able to throw it relatively where we were supposed to," said Eaton, who had thrown just one inning since signing with the Sky Sox on June 9.
Eaton was released by Baltimore on May 22 after going 2-5 with an 8.56 ERA in eight starts.
He was sharp after the layoff, giving up just three hits and walking one in five innings. A tight pitch count forced him out after the fifth, as Julianel finished things off with three strikeouts in two innings.
"The 75-pitch count was my limit today," Eaton said, "But it's not my limit of what I'm able to do. But being my first start after some time off it's definitely understandable and prudent to do that."
The offense scored five times in the first three innings, breaking the game open early.
Matt Murton drove in a pair of runs and extended his hitting streak, which now stands at 21 games after he collected hits in both games. The streak started in April and wraps around his monthlong stint with the Rockies.
But even Murton, who is batting .410, couldn't help the Sky Sox solve Las Vegas starter Davis Romero in the second game.
Romero struck out five and gave up just four baserunners in five innings.
"He was hard to see," said Matt Miller, who also had hits in both games. "Lefties on this field are hard to see for one reason or another. He had a weird delivery and overall it was just hard to pick up the ball."
Hynick kept up with Romero and the two relievers who followed him, yielding just four runners before struggling with the strike zone in the seventh.
He walked David Dellucci to lead off the inning and Dellucci stole second as Randy Ruiz struck out. An intentional walk to catcher Kyle Phillips set up a righty-righty matchup with Jason Lane, who drew a walk.
Cole then pulled Hynick in favor of reliever Kurt Birkins, who gave up a fly ball to Russ Adams that flew just deep enough into right field to score the only run of the game.
"Eaton did a great job of keeping them off balance," said Hynick, who fell to 5-5 while lowering his ERA to 3.80. "I kind of used that as my blueprint. Still, I hate to lose. But I think when I get past that I'll be able to look back and see some positives that I can take from this."
Today's 1:05 p.m. game will decide the five-game series.
MAJOR LEAGUE MOMENTS
The Sky Sox defense played a part in Saturday's solid pitching performances. In the first game, Christian Colonel made a backhanded stab between hops at third base and started a 5-4-3 double play. In the nightcap, second baseman Eric Young Jr. and shortstop Jonathan Herrera displayed perfect timing, doubling off a runner at second on a line drive that Young snared.