A night after the Kansas City T-Bones saw their ace fall in the opening game of the best of five series against the Sioux City Explorers, Barrett Astin tossed five solid innings, helping the T-Bones to even the series at one. Ryan Brett drove in two runs in the game and Cody Winiarski closed it out for his first save of the post-season.
Jason Garcia found himself in trouble from the very start. In the first, he gave up a one out single and walk. A fielder’s choice put runners at the corners, but the Explorers starter got out of the inning with a ground ball to end the threat.
In the second, he would not be so fortunate. Keith Curcio led off the inning with a drive down the line in right that easily cleared the wall for his first post-season home run. Garcia then walked Lago and Danny Hayes followed with a base hit. Anthony Phillips then laid down a bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. That brought Ryan Brett to the plate, who lined a ball down into the corner in left field. Both runners easily came around to score to make it 3-0.
Sioux City would get one of those runs back in the top of the third. Michael Lang led off by hitting a little dribbler down the first base line. Astin Barrett opted to try to play it, but he could not get his glove on it and Lang reached first. Nate Samson drew a walk and Lang came home when Dean Green delivered a two-out single to right. That cut the T-Bones lead to two.
They would restore their lead in the bottom half of the inning. Back-to-back walks to Todd Cunningham and Noah Perio, Jr. started the inning. A sacrifice bunt moved both players into scoring position before Curcio was walked. Alay Lago followed by hitting a ball to short for what looked like a sure double play. Samson threw to second for the out, but the relay was dropped, allowing Cunningham to score. That made it 4-1.
An error would open the door for Sioux City to get that run back in the fourth. With one down, Dylan Kelly singled up the middle. Dexter McCall then grounded a ball to the Kansas City second baseman, who dropped it pulling it out of his glove, allowing McCall to reach. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt and Kelly scored when Lang hit a little dribbler down the third base line that he turned into an infield single.
The Explorers had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the fifth. With one down, Green doubled off he wall in left. Two batters later, Blake Schmit walked and a single by Kelly loaded the bases. That brought McCall to the plate, who hit a hard grounder to short to end the inning, getting Astin out of trouble.
Barrett Astin (1-0) came out after five. He allowed 8-hits and 3-walks, but only one earned run. Astin struck out 4.
The Explorers would have another opportunity to get on the board in the seventh when Jose Sermo led off with a walk and Green followed with a single. Marcus Crescentini got Jay Baum to foul out and then struck out Schmit. That would be it for Astin, Joe Filomeno came on and struck out Kelly to end the inning.
Cody Winarski had struck out the final batter in the eighth. He returned in the ninth, retiring the side in order for his first save of the post-season, closing out the 4-2 victory.
Ryan Brett was 2-4 with 2-RBI. Keith Curcio and Alay Lago both were 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored . The Sioux City offense was led by the red hot Michael Lang, who was 3-4 with a run and an RBI. Dean Green finished
The two teams move to Sioux City for Game 3 starting Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier