Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Kyle Skipworth launched a walk-off grand slam to send the New Orleans Zephyrs to a 4-3 win over the Oklahoma City RedHawks before 4,652 at Zephyr Field Wednesday night.
With the RedHawks in front 3-0, Jose Valdez looked to preserve a second-straight win to start the series in New Orleans. Valdez walked Nick Green to start the inning, but then struck out Joe Mahoney to get the first out.
Gil Velazquez stepped up next and reached base on an infield single to third base. Jake Smolinski followed with a soft liner to right field that loaded the bases.
Skipworth bashed the first pitch from Valdez (3-3) well past the right field fence for his second home run of the season. One night before, he had struck out with the tying runners in scoring position to end the game. Entering Wednesday hitting just .156, the catcher went 2-for-4.
It was the first time the RedHawks (37-33) lost on a walk-off home run, but continued a recent troubling trend of being unable to hold onto late leads. For the third time in less than two weeks, they lost when leading after eight innings. Prior to this stretch, they had been 24-0 when leading after eight.
In the last four games they've gone to the ninth inning ahead, the opposition has either tied or taken the lead. Valdez had also blown a save in Sunday's 9-4 loss to Round Rock, a game in which the RedHawks led 4-1 heading into the ninth.
Aside from the ending, the game was very similar to Tuesday's contest. Neither team scored through six innings, with very few runners even reaching scoring position.
Also like Tuesday, the RedHawks scored three times in the seventh inning. Che-Hsuan Lin ripped a two-out RBI double to bring home Carlos Perez and give the RedHawks the lead.
With the bases loaded and two out, New Orleans pitcher Chris Hatcher attempted a pickoff at first base, but nobody was covering at the bag. The errant throw allowed Lin to score, and it appeared Robbie Grossman would score as well, but he tripped and fell coming down the third base line.
While Grossman was caught in a rundown, Hatcher bumped into him and was called for obstruction, allowing Grossman to score.
It looked like the 3-0 cushion would be enough, as the RedHawks pitching staff had another nice night through the first eight innings.
Starter Philip Humber had his best outing of the season, throwing five scoreless frames. He allowed three hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
Kevin Chapman kept the Zephyrs scoreless in the sixth after New Orleans had a runner at third base with one out. Jason Stoffel also pitched two scoreless innings. The pitching staff finished with 12 strikeouts for the game and had held the Zephyrs 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position through eight innings.
Instead Zephyrs reliever Rob Waite (1-0) got the win after tossing a scoreless ninth.