Laredo Lemurs 6-4 Victory Puts Team One Win from Championship
For 16-innings over the last two games the Sioux City Explorers have held the Laredo Lemurs to no runs. Unfortunately it has been those other two innings that have killed them, and on Saturday night that is what happened again. The Lemurs, after using a five-run second inning in Game 2 to catapult themselves to a 5-2 victory, took advantage of a six-run fourth inning to erase a 4-0 deficit and win 6-4, putting them just a game away from the club’s first American Association title.
Matt Loosen started for Laredo and he would have a rough outing, not getting past the second inning. In the bottom of the first the Explorers Matty Johnson walked to lead-off the inning, then stole second and moved to third on a fly ball out by Rene Tosoni two batters later. Brock Kjeldgaard was hit by a pitch and Noah Perio followed with a single that scored Johnson to make it 1-0 Sioux City.
In the bottom of the second the Explorers would extend their lead and chase Loosen. Back-to-
back-to-back singles by Tommy Mendonca, Matt Koch and Brent Keys got the inning started. Keys single scored Mendonca and gave the Laredo starter an early shower.
Ryan Beckman came in to relieve with Johnson being the first hitter. He hit a ground ball to first that was misplayed for an error, allowing Koch to score. Beckman then struck out the next two batters of the inning, but Kjeldgaard delivered a single into right field that brought home Keys to make it 4-0. Johnson also tried to score on the play, but a perfect relay of Denis Phipps to Travis Denker to Phil Pohl nailed Johnson at the plate. That proved critical.
John Straka started for Sioux City and he was absolutely dominate through the first three innings, retiring the side in order in each of the frames. In the fourth the Lemurs mounted a big rally that was the difference in the game. Ty Morrison singled to get it started, and Abel Nieves followed with a double that brought the speedy Morrison all the way around to score. Two batters later Phipps walked, and Denker followed that with a double that brought home Nieves to cut the deficit to two. Phil Pohl then reached on a fielder’s choice and the bases were loaded with just one out. That brought Drew Martinez to the plate who cleared the bases with a double that scored Phipps and Denker, with Pohl scoring on an error by the left fielder. That gave the Lemurs a one-run lead, and ended the night for Straka.
Rob Wort came in and recorded the second out, but a wild pitch allowed Martinez to score to make it 6-4. Amazingly the Lemurs rapped out just four hits on the night, and all of them came in this inning. Wort dominated the Lemurs over the next 2.1 innings, walking four but allowing nothing else. Jeff Marquez pitched the final 3.1 innings, and was perfect, striking out four.
That was an outstanding relief effort from the Sioux City Explorers pitching staff, but the Laredo Lemurs did them one better. Beckman pitched 7 outstanding innings, allowing 3 hits, a walk and no runs through the eighth inning. He struck out 7 and gave the Explorers no chance to rally to get back into the game.
In the ninth Laredo turned to John Brebbia to close it out. He allowed a hit, but struck out two in recording his second save of the series and fourth of the post-season. The Laredo reliever has now gone 10.2 innings, allowing 6 hits, a walk and no runs, while fanning 13. He is a key reason why the team is where they are.
Game 4 will be Sunday night in Sioux City as the Laredo Lemurs look to wrap up their first American Association title. Game time is 5:05.
By Robert Pannier