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Sky Sox squander chance to advance, force decisive Game 5 against Memphis Redbirds

September 9, 2017 Updated: September 9, 2017 at 9:48 pm
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Tyler Heineman (22) of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox receives a hug from his teammate Chris Colabello (20) after scoring a solo home run against the Memphis Redbirds at the bottom of the sixth inning at Security Service Field in the fourth of the best of five game playoffs. The Sky Sox fell short by a score of 11-8 on Saturday September 9, 2017 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

A night that could have ended in celebration provided a momentary feeling of anguish for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

After nearly giving away a nine-run cushion in Game 3 on Friday, the Colorado Springs bullpen proved shaky once again as the Sky Sox blew an opportunity to get to their first Pacific Coast League Championship Series in 22 years, losing to the Memphis Redbirds 11-8 in 10 innings on Saturday.

Now their fate comes down to Game 5 on Sunday afternoon at Security Service Field.

Colorado Springs manager Rick Sweet's prediction? No hard feelings come Sunday.

"This is the fun part," Sweet said. "These guys are focused. This is what you work all season for. It's like you run a marathon and now it's like you're running a sprint."

Game 4 was a slip-up.

The Redbirds, whose comeback fell short in a 16-15 loss in Game 3 despite scoring eight times in the final two innings, didn't squander another opportunity against the Sox's battered pen.

They scored four times in the seventh off reliever Michael Blazek to take a 7-5 lead. Then after a game-tying homer from Kyle Wren in the eighth, Wily Peralta walked home the game-winning run and allowed another by wild pitch as part of Memphis' four-run 10th.

The Sky Sox got one back in the bottom of the frame and brought the tying run to the plate before Nate Orf grounded into a fielder's choice.

Wren, who drove in three runs, said he isn't worried about his team's demeanor for Sunday.

"We just got to keep doing what we've been doing offensively and have a good game all-around defensively and with pitching," he said. "I think we'll be alright."

Tyler Heineman also homered and drove in three runs, and Orf had a double and scored on some heads-up baserunning for the Sky Sox, who are looking to make to their first PCL Championship Series since 1995.

Starter Bubba Derby allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings. The 23-year-old right hander was perfect through four innings, which was encouraging after eight Colorado Springs pitchers scuffed up the mound on Friday.

In the fifth, though, he allowed three runs on five hits, including a booming solo-shot from Jose Adolis Garcia as Memphis tied the game at 3-apiece.

He wasn't sharp in the sixth either, but got out of the inning unscathed with runners left on the corners.

"I thought he pitched very well," Sweet said. "Colorado Springs is a tough place to pitch.

"For him to go out and give us six innings when we needed it - he did a really good job."

The Sky Sox retook the lead when Orf came all the way around to score on a steal attempt with two outs in the fifth. The speedy outfielder walked, stole second and went to third on an errant throw from Memphis catcher Jeremy Martinez. He then slowly rounded third before breaking into an all-out sprint home as outfielder Tyler O'Neill lackadaisically returned the ball back to the infield.

Heineman added a solo shot to open the sixth to make it 5-3.

"You have the strangest games here," said Sweet, who has been in the PCL since 1993. "It's just the way it always is here."

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