The Sioux City Explorers have not found the confines of Mercy Field to be particularly friendly this season, especially after losing the first two games of their three-game set with the St. Paul Saints. However, the team got six outstanding innings from Keith Picht and took advantage of a four-run fifth on their way to a 5-2 victory. Jay Austin had the big hit of the game, a two run single that extended their lead to three.
The St. Paul Saints would grab the lead in the top of the second inning. Zach Walters singled to start the inning and moved to second when Nathaniel Maggio singled into right two batters later. Anthony Phillips delivered a single to right that brought home Walters and the Saints had a 1-0 lead.
Eddie Medina was in complete control through the first four innings. The right-hander allowed just one hit through the first four innings, but the wheels came off in the fifth.
With one down, Dylan Kelly beat out a ground ball to third for a single. Daniel Jackson followed with a base hit and Kelly scored when David Kerian singled up the middle. Luis Durango then drew a four pitch walk to load the bases before Michael Lang walked to drive in a run. That gave Sioux City the lead. Jay Austin extended the lead with a base hit into left field. Durango and Kerian came into score, and Lang looked to come all the way around from first, however, the throw from left field nailed him at the plate to end the inning.
Two innings later, the Sioux City Explorers extended their lead to four. Jackson walked with one down. Medina struck out Kerian for the second out of the inning, but Durango singled to score Jackson, extending the lead to 5-1.
The St. Paul Saints would immediately get that run back in the top of the eighth. Burt Reynolds walked to start the inning and advanced to second on a Brady Shoemaker single. Walters loaded the bases with a single and it looked like the Saints would cut deep into the Explorers lead. Maggio walked with one down to drive in a run, but Parker Markel would end the threat, striking out Matt Snyder before getting Aaron Gretz to fly out to end the inning. That made the score 5-2, but the Saints would get no closer.
Keith Picht (4-2) earned the victory, allowing 7-hits and a run in 6-innings of work. He struck out 6. Eric Karch came on in the ninth, striking out the side for his 10th save of the season. Jay Austin had 2-hits and drove in 2. Zach Walters had 2-hits and scored a run for St. Paul.
The St. Paul Saints head to Indiana to begin a three-game series against the Gary Southshore RailCats starting on Friday. The RailCats trail the Saints by 2.5 games in the North Division. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10.
By Robert Pannier