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Top 12 Games of 2012 (No. 11)

TOP 12 GAMES OF 2012
Throughout the fall, we’ll take a look at the top 12 games of 2012. Today, we look at Game No. 11 on our list. Click here to read about Game No. 12 and nine others that were considered for the list.

No. 11
Sept. 1:  Express 6, at Oklahoma City 3
It was the last victory in a rather subpar year, but it was a good one to end on. Round Rock plated five runs in the top of the ninth to erase a 3-1 deficit and all but end Oklahoma City’s playoff hopes. The RedHawks were eliminated the following day despite winning the season’s penultimate game.

Julio Borbon reached on an error to start the game and later scored on a wild pitch. However, that was the extent of Round Rock’s offensive production until the ninth inning. Oklahoma City wrestled away the lead with a three-run second, but the RedHawks managed only three hits the rest of the way.

Ryan Spilborghs’ RBI double started the five-run ninth. Later, Borbon delivered a bases-loaded, two-run single that proved to be the game-winning hit. Luis Hernandez followed with a two-run triple for good measure.

Borbon’s ninth-inning single was his 158th of the season, breaking Mark Saccomanno’s 2008 franchise record.

The game may have gone somewhat unknown – the 142nd game of the season and on the road can be that way. But it capped a stretch in which the Express went 9-3, and it was Round Rock’s 26th victory in 38 games after July 25.

 

ENGLE IN THE OUTFIELD
Congratulations are in order for Frisco center fielder Engel Beltre, who Friday was named a 2012 Minor League Baseball Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner. Although not as prestigious as its major league equivalent, the minor league award is more difficult to win. Consider: There are 30 major league teams and 120 full-season minor league teams.

Beltre, 22, played 119 games in center and committed only one error with 12 outfield assists. He led all Double-A outfielders with a .997 fielding percentage. Beltre was deemed the “Best Defensive Outfielder” in the Rangers’ farm system by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season. He also was rated the Texas League’s best defensive outfielder in the publication’s “Best Tools” issue in August. A mid-season and postseason Texas League All-Star, Beltre hit .261 with 13 homers, 55 RBI, 80 runs scored and 36 steals. He also finished second in the minors with 17 triples.

Originally signed by the Red Sox out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in 2006, Beltre was acquired by the Rangers along with David Murphy in the Eric Gagne trade one year later.

Expect to see Beltre at The Dell Diamond in 2013.

Express vs. New Orleans (Aug. 28 – Game 1)

One Down, One to Go:  Tanner Scheppers struck out the side in the seventh in his first game back with the Express. His save preserved Round Rock’s 5-4 win. Game two in about 30 minutes.

Back-to-Back Blasts:  Leonys Martin (12th) and Brad Nelson (24th) clubbed back-to-back homers with two outs in the top of the fourth, giving the Express a 5-3 lead. Round Rock’s last back-to-back homers were July 8 at Albuquerque – Matt Kata and Joey Butler. Nelson matched his 2011 home-run total with that blast.

Go Figure:  Joey Butler, who played collegiately at the University of New Orleans, clubbed his 19th home run of the season in the top of the third, tying the game at 3-3. Ironically, it will go down as his 14th “road” homer of the season.

Chaser:  Chase Lambin’s three-run homer in the bottom of the first put the Zephyrs up 3-2.

Mr. 200:  Matt Kata delivered a two-out, two-run single in the top of the first. He now has 200 career RBI with the Express, joining Mark Saccomanno (236) and Brooks Conrad (221) as the only players in franchise history to reach the milestone.

First Pitch:  We got underway at 5:48 p.m. – a 13-minute delay. Temperature at first pitch was 90 degrees – that’s 32 degrees in Nice, France.

Yes, We’re at Home:  Round Rock “hosts” New Orleans tonight for a doubleheader at The Dell Diamond. However, the Zephyrs will be the designated home team and will bat last. First pitch of the opener is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. They’ve just pulled the tarp, so we should start on time.

Express vs. Nashville (Aug. 25)

Might As Well Be An Inch As A Mile:  Express win 6-5.

Safe at Home:  Ryan Spilborghs slid under Humberto Quintero’s tag at home, scoring the go-ahead run on Julio Borbon‘s fielder’s choice. Express lead 6-5 going to the ninth.

Call to the Pen:  Martin Perez exits the game after seven innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts. His outing was better than the line would indicate. Perez righted the ship after a rough first inning pitched quite well other than the mistake pitch (Halton’s homer). Nonetheless, neither starter will factor in tonight’s decision. Fabio Castillo takes over on the mound for the Express, who left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. Still 5-5 going to the eighth.

Vargas Vacates… the mound. He worked six innings and allowed five runs on nine hits, one walk and one hit batter with six strikeouts. The Express matched the most hits against Vargas this season (Oklahoma City, June 19). Jesus Sanchez takes over on the mound for the Sounds. Still 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh.

Attendance:  Tonight’s attendance – much like the cost in USD for one semester of out-of-state tuition at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Ore., for the 2011-2012 academic year – 10,382.

Tit For Tat:  Joey Butler answered in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run blast. It was his 18th homer of the season and 30th in two years with the Express. He is the seventh player in franchise history with at least 30 home runs, a list that includes teammates Matt Kata (30) and Brad Nelson (46).

High-Power Halton:  Sean Halton blasted a two-run homer in the top of the fifth, giving the Sounds a 5-3 lead. It was his third homer of the series (he had two in the opener). It was the first multiple-run homer allowed by Martin Perez since June 10 when Omaha’s Tony Abreu hit a two-run shot in the sixth inning. Perez has allowed one home run every other outing since. Sounds lead 5-3 now going to the bottom of the sixth.

Mr. Express:  Matt Kata‘s third-inning RBI single knotted the game 3-3. Coupled with his first-inning single, that gives Kata 114 career multiple-hit games with the Express, tying Mark Saccomanno’s franchise record. Coincidentally, Kata also tied Saccomanno’s career games played record tonight (405).

Answer:  Round Rock responded with two runs on four hits in the bottom of the inning – RBI singles from Leonys Martin and Joey Butler. Martin was thrown out at third, rounding too much on Matt Kata‘s infield single. That cost the Express at least a run. Sounds starter Claudio Vargas matched his season high for most runs allowed in the first inning; he also surrendered two first-inning runs June 19 vs. Oklahoma City. Sounds lead 3-2 through one inning.

Shaky First:  Martin Perez surrendered three first-inning runs – the most he’s allowed in the first inning since a four-run first May 25 at Nashville. In fact, it was the first time he allowed more than two runs in any inning since surrendering three runs in the fourth inning June 10 at Iowa – a span of 49.2 innings over six starts and one relief appearance. Sounds lead 3-0 in the bottom of the first.

First Pitch:  We’re underway at 7:07 p.m. Temperature at first pitch was 90 degrees – that’s 32 degrees in Triesenberg, Liechtenstein.

Players to Watch (Aug. 25 vs. Nashville)

MARTIN PEREZ vs. CLAUDIO VARAGS is a mound matchup worth watching. They’ve been two of the Pacific Coast League’s best starters since the All-Star break. Martin is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in four starts and one relief outings, while Vargas is 3-0 with a 2.48 ERA in eight starts.

JOEY BUTLER is riding a 12-game hitting streak. It’s his third streak of at least 10 games this season.

MATT KATA plays his 405th game in an Express uniform tonight, tying Mark Saccomanno’s franchise record (Triple-A era). Kata also needs one multiple-hit outing to match Saccomanno’s franchise mark (114) in that category, as well.

Express vs. Nashville (Aug. 23)

Pivotal Inning:  Nashville loaded the bases with one out in the seventh but managed only one run on Logan Schafer’s sacrifice fly. Joe Ortiz spelled Derek Hankins and inherited runners on the corners with two outs. Ortiz stranded both inherited runners and has stranded 12 of 15 inherited runners with the Express. That was the only batter Ortiz would face as Willie Eyre takes over on the mound as we start the eighth. Express lead 5-1.

Here’s To You, Mr. Robinzon:  Robinzon Diaz delivered a two-out RBI single later in the sixth. Express lead 5-0 going to the seventh.

Catch 22:  Brad Nelson led off the bottom of the sixth with his 22nd homer of the season, tying for the ninth-best tally in Express history (Triple-A era). After hitting 24 homers last season, Nelson joins Mark Saccomanno and Brooks Conrad as the only Express players to hit at least 22 homers in multiple seasons. Nelson’s 46 career homers with Round Rock places him fifth in franchise history behind Conrad (67), Saccomanno (64), Luke Scott (51) and Cody Ransom (49). Behind Nelson are Joey Butler and Matt Kata with 29 each.

Bellwether Outing:  Express starter Chad Bell worked five shutout innings, scattering five hits (two doubles, one triple) and working around two walks. He struck out five, including two in the third inning. However, he had only one 1-2-3 inning (fourth) and was stretched to five full counts (Nashville batters were 3-for-5 with two doubles and a triple in those at bats). That added up to 85 pitches through five innings (51 strikes). Bell worked ahead on 11 of 20 batters faced, and the Sounds were 1-for-6 with four strikeouts when falling behind 0-2. As we suggested in tonight’s “Players to Watch,” Bell got through the third inning unscathed and left in line for the win. Derek Hankins spelled Bell to start the sixth with the Express still leading 3-0.

As a Matt-er of Fact:  Matt Kata clubbed a solo homer with one out in the fourth – his ninth of the season. Coupled with a second-inning single, this is Kata’s 113th career multiple-hit game with the Express – one shy of Mark Saccomanno’s franchise record (Triple-A era). Express lead 3-0 through four.

That Looked Very Familiar:  Ryan Spilborghs doubled just inside the third-base line with one out in the bottom of the second, scoring two runs. It looked almost exactly like his game winning hit from last night. As we mentioned in tonight’s “Players to Watch,” Spilborghs owns Nashville. He’s now 21-for-42 with three homers, 14 RBI and six doubles in 12 games this season against the Sounds. Express lead 2-0 going to the third.

Deja Blue All Over Again… Again:  Round Rock is wearing blue jerseys tonight for the fourth straight game. The Express won each of the last three. If it ain’t broke…

First Pitch:  Underway at 7:07 p.m. tonight. Temperature at first pitch was 91 degrees – that’s 33 degrees in Ponta Figa, São Tomé and Príncipe.

Round Rock Express Top Ten: Mark Saccomanno

2007: 131 G, 470 AB, 64 R, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 1 SB, .277 AVG, .323 OBP, .487 SLG
2008: 137 G, 528 AB, 83 R, 27 HR, 84 RBI, 4 SB, .297 AVG, .339 OBP, .521 SLG
2009: 137 G, 493 AB, 67 R, 15 HR, 67 RBI, 5 SB, .278 AVG, .329 OBP, .436 SLG

By Will Weinstock

Coming in at number four is arguably the most accomplished hitter in Express franchise history, INF Mark Saccomanno. We settled on the number four spot because of his outstanding offensive numbers over a three-year period against Triple-A competition. In his three years in Round Rock Saccomanno left a sizable mark on the Express record books.

The Houston Astros drafted Saccomanno in the 23rd round of the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft after an impressive four-year career at Baylor University. The Houston native had the honor of playing along Express Tracks favorite Texas Ranger OF David Murphy in college. After being drafted by the Astros the 32-year-old made three stops in four years before reaching Triple-A Round Rock in 2007.

In his three years in Round Rock Saccomanno set almost every Express record imaginable. He is the franchise leader in games, at-bat, hits, multi-hit games, total bases, and RBI. In fact if it were not for Luke Scott he would hold the franchise record for most home runs too.

The time that Saccomanno was an Express player came during some of the worst years in team history. From 2007 to 2009 the E-Train failed to reach 65 wins each season. Yet, the poor play of the team could not be attributed to Saccomanno because he was nothing short of phenomenal during his time with the Express. Consequently, his runs and RBI totals were hurt to a degree because he was playing on poor squads. In PCL, which is a 17-team league the Express never finished higher than 14th in batting average during his three seasons. In spite of the PCL having a reputation for being a hitter’s league. Saccomanno’s best season came in 2008 when he .297 with 27 home runs and an astronomical .521 slugging percentage.

The native Houstonian got his chance in the big leagues when Ty Wigginton went down with an injury. And on September 8, 2008 Saccomanno fulfilled his life long dream and was called up to the big leagues by his hometown team. The story got better when Saccomanno hit a home run on the first pitch he saw, becoming the 20th major league player to accomplish the feat.

After Saccomanno, last season with the Express he signed a minor league contract with the Florida Marlins. The 32-year-old played one season with the Marlin’s minor league affiliates before deciding to retire following the 2010 season.

Saccomanno deservedly comes in as the four best player to don an Express jersey.

Top 10 Schedule:

Number 10: Matt Kata
Number 9: Chris Davis
Number 8: Bud Norris
Number 7: Roy Oswalt
Number 6: Cody Ransom
Number 5: Jason Lane
Number 4: Mark Saccomanno
Number 3: July 17
Number 2: July 18
Number 1: July 19

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