Ian McKinney hasn’t really been considered one of the big guns of this Sioux City Explorers staff, but he came up with his best outing of the season on Saturday night, blanking the Kansas City T-Bones for seven innings as Sioux City forced a Game 5 with a 3-0 victory. Daniel Jackson had the big hit of the game, a two run homer in a three run second inning that proved to be all the runs that McKinney needed.
After a scoreless first, the Sioux City Explorers would jump out to what proved to be an insurmountable lead in the bottom of the second. Dean Green walked to start the inning, but right-hander Jared Mortensen was able to retire the next two batters. However, the third proved to be elusive as Dylan Kelly doubled into left field. Green bounded his way around third and scored to put the Explorers on top by a run. That brought Daniel Jackson to the plate, who crushed a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall for a two run homer, giving Sioux City a 3-0 lead. It was the first homer of the playoffs for Jackson.
That lead proved to be all that Ian McKinney needed. The Explorers starter gave up two singles in the second and a hit in the third, but would only give up one more hit on the evening, a one-out single in the fifth as the T-Bones had no answers for the crafty left-hander. McKinney (1-0) came out after seven, allowing 5 hits and 2 walks. He struck out 3.
In the eighth, Ryan Flores came on and he retired the first two batters of the inning, but Todd Cunningham kept it alive with a base hit to center. That brought a call to the bullpen as Patrick Schuster came on. He got ahead of Noah Perio, Jr. 0-1, then Perio lined a ball into right field that Michael Lang made a nice running catch on to end the threat.
The bottom half of the frame, Sioux City look to extend their lead. Dexture McCall got it started with a walk and Blake Schmit singled two batters later before Kelly walked to load the bases with one down.
Jackson Lowery relieved for Adam Bleday. However, Lowery could not stop the rally, walking Daniel Jackson on four pitches to extend the lead to four. That was the fourth run to score in the last two games via the bases loaded walk. Luis Durango followed with a sacrifice fly to score Schmit to make it 5-0.
Eric Karch came on in the ninth looking to finish of the game. He retired the side in order to preserve the shutout.
Daniel Jackson finished 1-3 with a run and 3-RBI. Dexture McCall scored 2-runs and Dylan Kelly was 3-3 with a run and an RBI.
The deciding Game 5 will be tomorrow at 7:05. It will be a rematch of Game 1, a contest that Sioux City won 4-2. Tommy Collier will go for the Kansas City T-Bones. He will be opposed by James Dykstra.
By Robert Pannier