The Kansas City T-Bones were hosting their first playoff game in seven seasons, but the Sioux City Explorers watered the charcoal, downing the T-Bones, 4-1. James Dykstra was absolutely masterful, allowing 2-hits in 7-innings for the victory, and Jose Sermo and Blake Schmit each homered in game. The victory gave the Sioux City Explorers lead the best of five series, 1-0.
The Sioux City Explorers would get on the board right away in the top of the first against Kansas City starter Tommy Collier. The righty struck out Luis Durango to start the contest. Michael Lang singled the other way and Nate Samson followed with a double to left-center. Lang came running hard all the way from first to score to put the Explorers up by a run. Next up was Jose Sermo, who hit a ball that looked like it would find the wall in left-center, but Todd Cunningham made a great diving catch for the second out of the inning. Samson tagged looking to advance to third, but when the throw to the infield was toward second, Samson just kept right on going, scoring on the sacrifice fly to extend the lead to two.
James Dykstra started for Sioux City and he rolled through the first three innings, allowing a one out walk in the second as the only mark on his record. In the fourth, a walk to Cunningham would come back to haunt him. With Cunningham at first, Noah Perio, Jr. doubled into right-center, sending the runner to third. Next up was Adrian Nieto, who grounded out to score Cunningham to cut the deficit to one.
In the fifth, it looked like Sioux City would do some real damage. Jay Baum led off with a single and moved to second when Blake Schmit was hit by a pitch. Dylan Kelly looked to lay down a sacrifice, but his bunt was right in front of Nieto, who fired to third to get the lead runner. There was still runners at first and second, but Collier left them stranded, striking out Dexture McCall before getting Durango to ground out to end the inning.
Collier escaped unscathed, but one swing of the bat would change that in the next inning. With two down, Jose Sermo crushed the first home run of the playoffs, clearing the wall in right-center to make it 3-1.
An inning later, the long ball would come back to haunt Collier once again. After striking out Baum, Blake Schmit went deep over the wall in left field for make it a three run Explorers lead.
James Dykstra (1-0) dominated this contest, allowing only 2-hits and 2-walks, while striking out 2. Dykstra came out after seven as a torn fingernail was becoming too much of an irritant.
Patrick Schuster came on and retired the first two batters before walking Keith Curcio. That brought another call to the bullpen as Parker Markel came on and struck out Ryan Brett to end the inning.
Tommy Collier (0-1) came out after 8-innings. He pitched well, allowing only 7-hits and no walks, while striking out 9. However, the two homers came back to haunt him as he took the loss.
Eric Karch came on in the ninth for Sioux City looking to close it out, but it looked like Kansas City would get back into this game. Karch retired the first two batters before giving up a base hit to Noah Perio, Jr. Nieto then drew a walk and the T-Bones had the tying run at the plate in Alay Lago. He hit a ball into right-center that looked like it had extra base hit written all over it, but Michael Lang made a diving catch, completely stretched out to end the game. Karch earned his first save of the post-season.
Jose Sermo was 1-3 with a run and 2-RBI to lead the Sioux City Explorers offense. Luis Durango had 2-hits. Noah Perio, Jr. led the T-Bones, going 3-4.
Game 2 is scheduled for tomorrow. The T-Bones will send Barrett Astin to the mound. He will be countered by Jason Garcia. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier