Published: August 9, 2013
Colorado Springs squandered three scoring opportunities in the final four innings to fall 6-1 to visiting Nashville on Thursday night.
The loss was the team's seventh in a row and eighth in the past 10 games. The Sky Sox (56-60) are 5-15 since the All-Star break.
The Sky Sox loaded the bases with one out in the ninth but Reid Brignac flew out to shallow left and Ben Paulsen struck out to end the game at Security Service Field with about 200 of the announced 5,921 paid attendance remaining after an almost two-hour rain delay.
Nashville pulled ahead in the top of the ninth after loading the bases on a walk, error and fielder's choice that did not result in an out. One strikeout later, a fielding error for Paulsen allowed Sean Halton to score for a 2-1 Sounds lead. Blake Davis then stroked a two-run double for a 4-1 margin followed by a sacrifice fly by Ozzie Chavez for a 5-1 lead.
An RBI single for Kentrail Davis made it 6-1 and ended reliever Mitchell Boggs' night at five runs allowed, none earned. Boggs (0-2) took the loss.
The decisive runs came after the Sky Sox wasted a golden opportunity in the bottom of the eighth. Reliever Kyle Heckathorn walked three batters in a row to load the bases with one out. But Kent Matthes struck out and Drew Garcia grounded out to end the threat and keep the game tied at 1-1. Heckathorn (8-3) picked up the win.
Colorado Springs had battled back to tie the game in the seventh. Pinch hitter Ryan Wheeler ripped a two-out RBI double down the left-field line to score Matthes from third.
Matthes had reached on a single and advanced to second on an errant throw by first baseman Hunter Morris during a rundown. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Garcia for the first out. Paulsen struck out on three pitches to set up Wheeler, who collected his team-high 68th RBI.
The double came during another strong pitching performance by Nashville (47-72) which came into the game with a 13-8 record since the All-Star break and a 3.30 team ERA.
Starter Zack Kroenke threw well for the Sounds. He allowed only two hits in six innings, including a huge strikeout against Xavier Nady that ended the sixth, the Sky Sox's first significant scoring chance, with two on base. The Sky Sox were unable to take advantage of two fielding errors in a row by Morris.
Nashville catcher Blake Lalli stroked a solo home run, his 10th dinger of the season, in the second for the early lead.
Both starters were scratched after the rain delay that began after the lineup cards were exchanged. Sky Sox left-hander Nick Schmidt took the place of Cory Riordan while righty Kroenke went in for R.J. Seidel.
Schmidt, normally a reliever, performed well in an emergency start and recorded four strikeouts. He gave way to Mike McClendon, who came up with a strikeout to end the top of the fifth to keep the game close.
Henniger speaking engagement in Peyton
Former Sky Sox on-field host and promotions director Rai Henniger will speak to students of The Patriot Learning Center, the alternative middle and high school for Falcon School District No. 49, at 8:30 and 10:40 a.m. Friday at 11990 Swingline NE Road in Peyton.
Henniger will share how he rebuilt his life after a postgame fireworks accident in May 2007 nearly killed him, took his eye and damaged his brain. The event is part of a school program that helps students assess and overcome their challenges.
Shortstop Josh Rutledge extended his hit streak to 12 games with a two-out single in the third inning. . Garcia came off the temporary inactive list and started at second base. He was activated to replace right-hander Jeff Manship, who started for the Rockies in a 2-1 loss at the Mets Thursday. . Pitcher Christian Friedrich was placed on the 60-day disabled list for lower back inflammation. He made four starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs this year going 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA. The left-hander was the Rockies' first round (25th overall) selection in the 2008 draft and made his major league debut last year on May 9 at San Diego. In 16 MLB starts last year, he went 5-8 with a 6.17 ERA with 30 walks and 74 strikeouts.