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Sky Sox's bats get hot, but not in time in 11-9 loss

April 15, 2014 Updated: April 15, 2014 at 10:54 pm
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photo - Sky Sox first baseman Ben Paulsen watches the flight of the ball in this 2013 file photo. Paulsen's two home runs Tuesday weren't enough to prevent an 11-9 Sky Sox loss to Oklahoma City.  Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
Sky Sox first baseman Ben Paulsen watches the flight of the ball in this 2013 file photo. Paulsen's two home runs Tuesday weren't enough to prevent an 11-9 Sky Sox loss to Oklahoma City. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette 

First baseman Ben Paulsen summed it up well. When one Sky Sox batter gets going, the others soon follow.

The spark in Tuesday's rally, which came up short in an 11-9 loss to Oklahoma City, was provided as usual this season by left fielder Tim Wheeler.

"It's contagious," said Paulsen, who connected for two home runs, including the final run in the ninth inning. "Tim has been the one getting us going so far this year. Once he gets hitting, everyone just seems to follow."

Over the past four games, Wheeler is 10 for 19, including a two-run homer over the right-center field fence to make it 9-5 RedHawks in the seventh. That homer ignited the Sky Sox rally. Matt McBride hit a double, his 62nd with the Sky Sox, into the left-center gap. The hit came immediately after OKC catcher Carlos Perez dropped a pop-up in foul territory to extend the designated hitter's at-bat.

Paulsen then connected on a two-run homer to dead center, just over the 410 feet sign. Kyle Parker followed that with a solo homer three pitches later to make it 9-8. It was the first back-to-back Sky Sox homers since Paulsen and Kent Matthes on Aug. 21, 2013.

"Kyle might have some of the quickest hands and once he saw a fastball he tattooed it," Paulsen said.

Oklahoma City designated hitter Max Stassi drove home two runs in the top of the ninth off reliever Chris Martin to secure the victory.

For the second PCL game in a row, the visiting starting pitcher stymied Colorado Springs early. Fortunately for the 3,570 fans at Security Service Field, the Houston Astros farm system limits its starters to five innings. OKC's Mike Foltynewicz left leading 8-1.

"Their starter threw hard and had some good off-speed pitches," Paulsen said. "(You) got to tip your hat to him."

The Sky Sox rally followed against the relievers, who allowed 12 of the 16 hits and eight runs over the final four innings.

Tim Wheeler, batting a team-high .390, broke Foltynewicz's shutout bid in the fifth inning when he drove in Michael McKenry (leadoff double).

"I have been swinging the bat well," Wheeler said after going 3 for 5 with two doubles and a homer on Saturday.

In the sixth, Parker got around on reliever Rudy Owens and drove the ball into the right-field corner to score Paulsen. An RBI single by McKenry scored Parker to make it 8-3 and the rally was underway.

OKC center fielder George Springer hit a grand slam against Colorado Springs starter Christian Friedrich in the second inning to make it 7-0. That came after two errors in the first helped OKC to a 3-0 lead.

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