The Oklahoma City Dodgers rallied for three runs with two outs in the sixth inning, and the bullpen duo of Grant Dayton and Logan Bawcom retired the final eight Round Rock batters to preserve a 4-3 win over the Express Monday night at Dell Diamond.
With the win, the Dodgers (28-27) have now taken six of the first seven games they’ve played at Dell Diamond this season. The victory also ensured the Dodgers did not go under .500 for the first time this season.
For the third consecutive game, the Dodgers scored in the first inning. Leading off the game, Charlie Culberson homered to left field, giving OKC an instant 1-0 lead. In quite the coincidence, the team’s previous leadoff homer came exactly one year ago at Dell Diamond on June 6, 2015, hit by Darnell Sweeney.
The Express (30-26) knotted the score in the third inning when Drew Robinson led off with a solo homer, his seventh of the season. Round Rock collected two more hits in the inning, but OKC catcher Vinny DiFazio threw out two attempted base stealers.
Round Rock took the lead in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, rehabbing Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo collected his third hit of the night with a RBI single, putting Round Rock ahead, 2-1. But with the bases loaded and one out, OKC starting pitcher Nick Tepesch struck out Robinson Chirinos and got Joey Gallo to fly out to keep the deficit at one.
It was only a few days ago Tepesch was playing for the Express. He was granted his release Saturday and officially signed as a free agent with the Dodgers earlier on Monday. Making his debut with his new team against his old team, Tepesch (5-2) picked up the win. He allowed two runs (one earned) and seven hits over five innings. Tepesch struck out four and walked two while improving to 8-2 in 10 career starts at Dell Diamond.
Tepesch’s ability to keep the Dodgers down by just one proved to be critical, as OKC was able to regain the lead in the next inning. The Dodgers had the bases empty with two outs in the sixth before four straight batters reached base, resulting in three runs. Rob Segedin walked, and Zach Walters followed with a double to put runners at second and third base.
O’Koyea Dickson came up next and sent a sharp grounder down the third base line for a two-run double, giving OKC the lead. Brandon Hicks followed with a RBI single, making it 4-2.
Dickson finished with a season-high three hits and also collected his first stolen base of the season. Walters went 2-for-4, marking his fourth consecutive multi-hit game. He’s now hit safely in nine straight games, going 15-for-33 during that time.
The Express cut OKC’s lead down to one in the seventh inning. Three of the first four batters collected hits, including a RBI single by James Jones. With the tying run at third and one out, Dayton struck out both Chirinos and Gallo, keeping the lead intact.
After the Dodgers took the lead in the sixth, they had multiple chances to add more runs in the final three innings. In each of the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, the Dodgers had a runner at second base with none out, but they did not score during any of those opportunities. During that time, the Dodgers went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position with seven strikeouts, leaving a total of four runners at either second or third base.
It turned out the Dodgers didn’t need the extra breathing room. Bawcom retired all six batters he faced over the eighth and ninth innings, with two via strikeout, as he picked up his first save of the season. Bawcom and Dayton combined to retire the final eight Express batters, with four strikeouts.
Round Rock starting pitcher Michael Roth ended up with the loss. Between Culberson’s leadoff homer and the start of the sixth-inning rally, Roth (4-2) had retired 16 of 18 batters. He allowed one walk and set a new season high with six strikeouts. Both of Roth’s losses this season have come at the expense of Oklahoma City.
The Dodgers have a chance to win the series when they play their final game at Dell Diamond this season Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. Live coverage begins 15 minutes before the first pitch on AM 1340 "The Game," 1340thegame.com, or through the free iHeartRadio mobile app.