With the Thunder season completed, summer hitting its midway point and the RedHawks returning for a weekend night game, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark saw its biggest attendance of the season Saturday night.
Overflowing onto the lawn behind center field, a crowd of 10,009 attended Oklahoma City's 4-3 win over Omaha.
“It was a good homecoming,” RedHawks manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “We've been on the road for a long time, it seems like. To have 10,000 people here when we get back, that's a good feeling.”
And the RedHawks have thrived in their home park.
With Saturday's win, their impressive home record improved to 26-10, the second-best winning percentage in the league.
“Just look at our home record, it's great,” Francesco said. “Guys are playing with confidence here.”
BULLPEN SAVES GAME
Coming in, the Oklahoma City bullpen knew it would be forced into extended action.
With Houston Astros starter Bud Norris on a rehab assignment for his sprained knee, limiting him to 75 pitches, the RedHawk relievers were on call early.
And they got the ball to start the sixth inning, handed a 4-2 lead, facing one of the league's best offensive teams.
After Enerio Del Rosario gave up a quick run, shrinking the lead to one, three OKC relievers held on, allowing two hits and no runs over the final three frames.
“They did a good job,” DeFrancesco said. “We just mixed and matched the bullpen. Unfortunately we don't have any lefties down there, and these righties had to go against some pretty good left-handed hitters. But they got it done.”
Hot early, the RedHawks potent offense was quieted throughout the late stages of the game.
In the final five innings, Oklahoma City was held scoreless on only two hits.
But it was the early damage, including Scott Moore's long home run and Jimmy Paredes' RBI double, that proved to be the difference.
OKC got four in the first four innings, sprinting out to a nice lead, before holding off a late rally.
“With a DH in there, we got a quality lineup,” Francesco said. “Good mix of speed and power.”
Another day, another couple bruises for Oklahoma City catcher Carlos Corporan.
But this one may have been to the extreme.
In a painful seventh inning, Corporan got smoked by four foul tips in a five-pitch span, constantly trying to shake off one hit while getting drilled by another.
“Just a tough day,” Corporan said. “All day. We get in at 4 in the morning, got to come here to play, it's not easy.”
That's the life of a minor league catcher.
“We always gets beat up,” Corporan said. “You just got to deal with it.”
The battle of first-place teams continues tomorrow.
Leading their respective divisions, Oklahoma City and Omaha play the second game of a four-game series tomorrow at 6 p.m. in Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.