MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A strong pitching performance was ruined with one swing of the bat, and the Oklahoma City RedHawks fell 5-2 to the Memphis Redbirds Friday.
The RedHawks entered the sixth inning leading 2-1 and had only allowed two hits. But starter Andy Van Hekken began losing control and walked three batters to load the bases with two outs.
The OKC pitching coach paid a visit to Van Hekken after the third walk, but elected to leave him in the game. That decision backfired. In the next at-bat, Van Hekken allowed a grand slam to Steven Hill – the only hit of the inning – that took Memphis from down one to up three. The Redbirds coasted from there.
The game-winning grand slam ruined what was an excellent start for Van Hekken, whose only other run allowed game in the third inning on a solo homer by Aaron Luna. Van Hekken left the game after pitching 5.2 innings and giving up just three hits, but still finished with a loss.
Maikel Cleto also gave a strong start for Memphis, going five innings and holding OKC to two runs on three hits. But he left the game with his team still trailing, so he finished with a no-decision. Pete Parise earned his first win of the year in relief and held the RedHawks to one hit in two innings.
Oklahoma City now has lost the first two games of its series in Memphis, as well as five of its last six games overall. It will have another opportunity to get back on track against the Redbirds at 6:05 p.m. Saturday.