June 19, 2013 - Pacific Coast League (PCL) - New Orleans Baby Cakes
Kyle Skipworth picked a grand time for his first career walk-off home run.
The Zephyrs catcher belted a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving New Orleans a 4-3 win over the Oklahoma City RedHawks on Wednesday night.
Trailing 3-0 entering the ninth, the Z's rallied against RedHawks closer Jose Valdez, starting with a leadoff walk by Nick Green. Back-to-back one-out singles by Gil Velazquez and Jake Smolinski loaded the bases for Skipworth, who crushed Valdez 's first offering deep over the right field fence for the game-winner. It was Skipworth's second home run of the season, both of which have come in the ninth inning.
For the second consecutive night, the RedHawks and Zephyrs engaged in a scoreless pitchers duel for six innings. And for the second consecutive night, Oklahoma City broke through with a three-run seventh, thanks in part to some bizarre plays.
A one-out single by Carlos Perez against Z's starter Duane Below was cashed in by a double into the left-center field gap by Che-Hsuan Lin, giving the RedHawks a 1-0 lead. Below was removed following a walk to Robbie Grossman, and the Zephyrs turned to Minor League saves leader Chris Hatcher to keep the game close.
But Hatcher walked Jonathan Villar to load the bases, and after working a full count to Jake Elmore, threw errantly to first base on a pickoff attempt with nobody covering, allowing Lin to score from third. Grossman attempted to score on the play but was caught in a rundown, only to be awarded home plate when he was interfered with by Hatcher, who then escaped further damage by getting Brett Wallace to ground out to end the inning.
New Orleans was kept off the board for the first eight innings by three RedHawks hurlers. Starter Philip Humber struck out six and walked three in five innings, Kevin Chapman logged a scoreless frame, and Jason Stoffel fanned three in two innings. The Zephyrs were not without their scoring chances, but went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position before Skipworth's blast.
Below was charged with three runs - two earned - and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked two. Rob Waite (1-0) was the winning pitcher, recording two strikeouts in a scoreless top of the ninth.
Valdez (3-3) suffered his fifth blown save in 18 opportunities and took the loss.
The Zephyrs and RedHawks play the third game of the four-game series on Thursday at 7 p.m.