Explorers Late Rally Falls Short, Saltdogs Win 10-8
Sioux City, IA – Another chilly game, another comeback that comes up just short for Sioux City. In two consecutive games the Explorers strand the would be tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth. This time resulting in a 10-8 Lincoln Saltdogs victory.
In the first three games of the series the team that scored first ended up winning the game. Which was good news to the Explorers after Jose Sermo drove in Michael Lang with a double in the first inning and Sioux City went up 1-0.
The score stayed that way till the third inning and then the Saltdogs bats woke up. A single, walk and hit batter loaded the bases for Curt Smith who picked up his first RBI of the game with a walk forcing in a run and tying the game. A two run single by Tyler Moore and a two run double by Cody Regis made it a 5-1 Lincoln lead.
Back to back homers for the Saltdogs by Randolph Oduber and Smith, both their firsts of the year, opened up the fifth inning and pushed the Lincoln lead to 7-1. A fly ball to center that would have ended the frame was dropped allowing another run to score on a Colton Burns RBI single making it 8-1 Lincoln.
That ended the day for Explorers starting pitcher Eric Karch (0-1), who was making his debut for the Explorers in the starting rotation and fifth ever professional start. Karch had starred as the closer for the X’s in 2018 saving a third best in franchise history 21 games last season. He lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing 8 runs (7 earned) on 8 hits, striking out 6 and walking 2.
Lincoln added two more runs in the sixth inning, again Oduber and Smith getting on with a single and a double respectively with Oduber scoring on a wild pitch and Smith on an error. Sioux City committed two errors in the ball game making it seven total errors during the four game series. The Saltdogs however opened up a commanding 10-1 lead after six innings.
John Brownell (1-0) picked up the win for Lincoln as he tossed six innings of one run ball, giving up just two hits. In the final three games of the series Saltdogs starting pitching combined to allow just a single run in seventeen innings of work.
But then the bullpen got involved and again the Explorers offense came alive. The X’s exploded for a six run seventh inning, capitalized by five straight singles. Lang picked up an RBI on a bases loaded knock, along with Nate Samson who reached base three times in the contest. After an error, fielders choice and a hit batter loaded the bases again Hunter Wood delivered a two run single for the Explorers to cap off the six run rally. Sioux City had entered the inning trailing 10-1 and ended up making it a ball game by innings end at 10-7.
The Explorers were able to tack on another run in the eighth as Nelson Ward worked a lead off walk. But two outs later Ward was still stuck at first. Samson worked a tough walk before Jose Sermo picked up his second RBI of the game with a base hit to bring home Ward and the tying run was on base. Dean Green battled with Cameron McVey but would line out to short to end the threat.
Sioux City again in the ninth went back to work, Luke Bonfield lead off the inning with a base hit and Dexture McCall picked up his second hit of the day. And the Explorers again had the tying run on base. But a ground ball up the middle by Ward was somehow saved from going to the outfield by Lincoln short stop Ivan Marin, and not only did he save a run he was able to flip the ball to second to prevent the tying run from getting into scoring position but also get an all important second out. A ground ball by the next batter would finish the game and the X’s who fought all the way back from 10-1 down fell to the Saltdogs 10-8.
Sioux City is now 1-3 to begin the season and will have a day off on Monday before boarding the bus for their first official road trip of the season to Gary, IN to take on the Railcats in a three game series followed by a trip to St. Paul for a three game set with the Saints over Memorial Day weekend.
By Conner Ryan