Explorers Drop Rubber Match in Lincoln
by GMW Vaughan, Sioux City Explorers
LINCOLN, NE—On a sunny Father’s Day Sunday, the Sioux City Explorers (15-19) rallied late, but couldn’t reclaim their early lead dropping another close game 6-4 to the Lincoln Saltdogs (14-18). The X’s, down 6-2, would load the bases and leave the tying run at second in the loss in the ninth inning.
The Explorers got on the board first against the Lincoln Saltdogs (14-18) as Jake Ortega—enjoying a 9-day hitting streak—hit a towering home run over the right field wall off Lincoln starter John Bezdicek, to grab an early lead 1-0. John Nogowski followed with a single, but Tyler Rando, in the final out of the top of the first, seemed to trip over his helmet and had to be helped off the field.
In the home half of the third, Nate Samson started the inning with a double off X’s starter Jared Wetherbee, followed by another double off the bat of Aaron Takecs that scored Samson, tying the game 1-1.
In the bottom of the fourth, Carson Maxwell grabbed a single, but what should have been an easy out for Samson landed him on base after Ortega bobbled the ball, giving Samson first as Maxwell advanced to third. Takecs followed with a single, scoring Samson and extending the Saltdog lead to 2-1. A walk for Marshall Awtry then loaded the bases. After an injury for Wetherbee, Kent Hasler took over on the mound for the Explorers and walked Zane Zurbrugg, scoring Maxwell, making it 3-1.
Jack Kelly opened the fifth inning with a single, followed by an RBI double for Miguel Sierra that scored Kelly, inching the X’s closer, 3-2. Zinn’s single that slid past the five-six hole put X’s on the corners. Chase Harris got walked, taking first after Zinn got caught out stealing second, but a double-play ball on an Ortega hit ended the inning with the X’s trailing 3-2.
In the sixth, the Explorers looked like they might come back after a Nogowski lead-off single, but he got caught out at first. Daniel Perez followed with a single then moved to second on a hit-by-a-pitch for Gimenez that put him on first. Both Gimenez and Perez moved to second and third after a wild pitch. A walk for Jack Kelly loaded the bases, but after Walter Borkovich took over on the bump for the Saltdogs, he struck out Miguel Sierra, and the X’s ended the inning still trailing 3-2.
In the home half of the seventh inning, two base hits for Awtry and Zurbrugg, followed by sac bunt by Drew Devine, moved Awtry and Zurbrugg up. Nick Anderson kept the Saltdog momentum going after a Nate Gercken walk, loading the bases for the Dogs. A Yanio Perez sac fly scored Awtry, buying the insurance for the Lincolns, 4-2. A pass ball moved Will Kengor to first, loading the bases again for the Saltdogs, but Gercken kept the Saltdogs from doing more damage.
A Nate Samson home run in the bottom half of the eighth inning extended the Saltdog lead, 5-2. Marshall Awtry followed with another home run, making it 6-2. Zurbrugg followed with an infield single that resulted in Delvin Zinn and Steve Montgomery’s getting ejected, Montgomery carrying the base pad out of the park with him as the inning ended with the Saltdogs up by four.
In the ninth inning the X’s came alive. Chase Harris started with a single, then Jake Ortega got on base after a dropped third strike while Chase Harris raced around the bases to score, cutting into the Saltdog lead, 6-3. Nogowski advanced to first on a walk from Carter Hope, keeping the hope alive for the X’s. Fernandez followed with a walk, loading the bases. Daniel Perez singled, scoring Ortega, but it wasn’t enough as the X’s rallied but fell short, 6-4. John Bezdicek (2-2) got the win, Matt Cronin (1-3) the save, and Jared Wetherbee (2-1) the loss.
The Explorers continue their nine-game trip with the first game of a three-game series against the Kansas City Monarchs. Sioux City returns home Tuesday, June 27 for the first game of a three-game series with the Sioux Falls Canaries. Tickets for the season can be purchased online at XSBaseball.com, in person at the Lewis and Clark Park Box Office or by calling 712-277-WINS. You can catch all the X’s action on aabaseball.tv and on radio at KSCJ 94.9 FM and 1360 AM.