April 16, 2014 Updated: April 16, 2014 at 5:11 pm
Colorado Springs enjoyed stronger than usual opening innings from their starting pitching but it was not enough against Oklahoma City on Wednesday.
Sky Sox starter Christian Bergman put together a good five innings before he faltered in the sixth, allowing the Pacific Coast League American North division-leading RedHawks (10-4) to tie to game en route to an 8-6 victory.
Bergman recorded the first 1-2-3 opening inning this homestand and kept a good-hitting RedHawks squad from mounting rallies in the first five innings to build a 6-2 lead. It was the first lead of three runs or more since April 10.
"Our starters have found it difficult to keep early pitch counts low in the last six or seven starts," Sky Sox manager Glennallen Hill said. "We have all the confidence in the world in their abilities to pitch here. They haven't had the opportunity to bounce back after those early miscues."
The winning runs came against reliever Dan Houston (0-1), who took the loss when OKC first baseman Jon Singleton hit a two-run homer to right-center field to push the RedHawks ahead 8-6 in the seventh inning. The RedHawks bullpen struck out nine and walked none over the final 6? innings to secure the comeback.
Bergman's struggles came with one out recorded in the sixth inning when he gave up four earned runs to wipe out a 6-2 Sky Sox lead. A walk, four singles and a fielder's choice sent four base runners home and left him on the hook for all four runs although two scored while Houston picked up the final two outs before 2,589 fans, mostly elementary school students participating in a Math Day matinee, at Security Service Field.
The kids had plenty to cheer about in the third inning.
Two throwing errors allowed Sky Sox first baseman Ben Paulsen to survive a rundown and score, along with former Clemson teammate Kyle Parker, to cap a six-run third inning for the Sky Sox (5-8).
Paulsen's trouble was indicative of a team learning to create runs with aggressive base running.
"Some teams fall asleep when you play a team with our size," Ryan Wheeler said. "We want to put some pressure on them. It will lead to more runs."
The big inning was jump-started by Drew Garcia's leadoff double, a triple by Jason Pridie and Wheeler's first home run of the season.
Paulsen later hit an RBI double for a 4-1 Colorado Springs lead. That is when the errors occurred.
On a fielder's choice hit by Parker, Paulsen, looking to advance, was caught in a rundown between second and third base. But second baseman Ronny Torreyes' toss toward third sailed high, allowing Paulsen to advance to third and then race home.
Pitcher Jake Buchanan recovered the ball in foul territory but threw well above catcher Max Sassi, allowing Paulsen and Parker to score.
This is the first home series against the RedHawks since 2012. Wednesday was the second of 16 scheduled games against the PCL American North division leader. . Thursday night's starters are OKC righty Collin McHugh (0-0, 6.00 ERA), a former Sky Sox starter, and Colorado Springs left-hander Tyler Matzek (1-0, 5.00).