Each night, Robert Pannier will provide a full recap of the top game in the American Association, as well as a brief recap of the other contests to go along with news and notes from around the league. In the opening edition of the 2018 season, the Sioux City Explorers are led by newcomer Jay Baum, who homers and drives in three as the Explorers down the Lincoln Saltdogs, 7-4.
Three-Runs in Ninth Gives Sioux City Victory
The American Association Season got underway on Thursday, when the Sioux City Explorers traveled to Nebraska to take on the Lincoln Saltdogs. The Explorers led this contest for much of the evening before the Saltdogs were able to rally to tie the score in the eighth. However, a three-run rally in the ninth helped to propel Sioux City to the 7-4 opening game victory. Jay Baum homered and drove in three in his debut for the Explorers.
The Saltdogs would take the lead in the bottom of the first against Explorers starter Luis Mateo. Ivan Marin walked with one down and scored when Nathaniel Maggio followed with a double to make it 1-0.
Sioux City responded with two runs in the top of the second. Nate Samson led off the frame with a single and moved to third when Nelson Ward followed with a double. Lincoln starter Derek Gordon was on the ropes but looked like he would escape the frame unscathed when he got a shallow popup before striking out Dexture McCall. However, Dylan Kelly delivered a clutch base hit that scored both runners to put the Explorers on top, 2-1.
Lincoln did a little responding of their own in the bottom half of the inning as Chase Simpson led off with a single before Angel Reyes walked. Christian Ibarra then lined a single into left that scored Simpson to tie the score.
The score remained tied until the fourth when the Sioux City Explorers would retake the lead. Ward started the inning with drive to the wall that he legged out for a triple. Next up was Jay Baum, who crushed a Gordon offering for his first homer of the year making it 4-2.
After giving up the two early runs, Mateo settled down, allowing 4-hits total in his 5 innings of work. The Explorers bullpen then held the lead until the eighth when Lincoln rallied to tie the score. Simpson got the rally started with a one-out single and Reyes followed with his first home run of the season to tie the score at four.
The Lincoln crowd was raucous but their enthusiasm would not last long. In the top of the ninth, Shairon Martis came on in relief and walked Daniel Jackson to start the inning. Luis Durango laid down a bunt to move the runner into scoring position for Michael Lang, who drilled a shot over the head of the center fielder. Jackson easily came around to score with Lang beating the throw to third for his first triple of the season. Jay Austin followed with a ground out that brought Lang home to extend the lead to two. There were two down, but Samson kept the inning alive with a single and Nelson Ward then drew the free pass to put two on with two outs. That brought Baum to the plate, who singled to center to score Samson and the lead was three.
In the bottom of the ninth Geoff Broussard came on looking to close it out for the Sioux City Explorers. He issued a one out walk, but then retired the next two batters for his first save of the season. Eric Karch (1-0) earned the victory.
Jay Baum had a huge night in his first game in an Explorers uniform, going 3-4 with a run, homer and 3-RBI. Nate Samson was 2-5 with 2-runs scored. Angel Reyes was 1-3 with a run, home run and 2-RBI for the Saltdogs.
American Association Daily Notes
The St. Paul Saints will announce on Friday the signing of IF-OF Jimmy Heck. Heck played for the Salina Stockade last season, where he hit .258 in 89 games with 36 runs scored and 24 RBI.
By Robert Pannier
Member of the IBWAA