Joe Bisenius Cages Canaries in 5-0 Lincoln Saltdogs Win: Lincoln Line
It was a game where the Lincoln Saltdogs needed a big night from their starting pitcher if they were going to have any chance to grab the Central Division in the American Association. Trailing Gary by one game with just seven games left in the season, every game takes on a playoff atmosphere. One of the things that a team needs to be successful in the playoffs is outstanding pitching performances and Joe Bisenius gave the Lincoln Saltdogs just that.
Bisenius entered the game with a 5-2 record and a 3.83 ERA in 12 starts for Lincoln this season. By the way he pitched tonight it looked more like he was 50-2 with a 0.83 ERA. The big right-hander was simply dominant, giving up just five hits in eight innings of work, while striking out 14, his third straight start with at least 10 strikeouts and sixth of the season. It was also his fifth straight win, and moved his record on the season to 6-2.
While Bisenius’ outing was impressive, it was outright necessary early on. Through the first four innings, the Saltdogs’ right- hander was clinging to a 1-0 lead. Kyle Ruwe was cruising through the first four innings as well for Sioux Falls, giving up just Chad Mozingo’s solo home run in the third. For Mozingo it was his sixth home run of the year, and couldn’t have happened at a better time.
In the fifth Lincoln gave their starter some cushion with the help of the Sioux Falls fielders. Matt Forgatch should have been the first out of the inning, but instead reached on an error by Sam Lind. Brandon Pinckney followed with a single sending Forgatch to third. With Mike Gilmartin at the plate, catcher Matt Hitt attempted to pick-off Pinckney, but instead overthrew the first baseman, bringing Forgatch home and sending Pinckney to second. One out later Tyler Smith singled to score Pinckney and it was 3-0 Saltdogs.
That was all the support Bisenius was going to need. He was cruising through the Sioux Falls lineup, dominating Canaries’ hitters. The first inning was his most challenging, giving up a lead-off single to Steven Tinoco and a one out hit to A.J. Kirby-Jones to make it first and second with one out. However, this was Bisenius’ night. He struck out Chris Duffy and Carlos Mendez to the end the inning, and in fact struck out the side.
In the second he struck out the side again, giving him six straight strikeouts to start the game. In the third Matt Hitt struck out to lead-off the inning, making it seven in a row, but then Tinoco singled again and Brandon Jones followed with a single. The Lincoln starter stayed poised though, getting the next two batters out, and keeping his team on top 1-0.
In the fourth he rolled through a 1-2-3 inning, striking out Chris Valencia for the second out, and eighth strike out of the game. The fifth brought much of the same as Bisenius retired the side in order, striking out the last two batters. His total was now up to 10. In the sixth he gave up a one out double, but still struck out the side giving him 13 on the night. The seventh he did not strike out any batters for the first time in any inning, but he did retire the Canaries in order, and continued to maintain the 3-0 lead. The eighth was his last inning of work, retiring Sioux Falls in order again, and getting one more strike out.
Overall he gave up five hits and zero walks in eight innings of work while striking out 14. It was an awesome night for the right-hander who, when the night ended, had pitched his team into a first-place tie with the Gary Southshore RailCats. A truly huge moment for himself and the team.
The Saltdogs added two more runs in the ninth. Pinckney singled home Brian Joynt to make the score 4-0. Later in the inning Tyler Smith’s single plated Pinckney for a 5-0 lead. The Saltdogs only mustered seven hits on the night, but got the most out of those hits. Pinckney was the big star at the plate, going 2-4 with two runs and one RBI.
Wednesday night the first-place Saltdogs will take the field again against Sioux Falls. Lincoln will send RHP Zachary Varce against LHP Matt Wickswat.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA