Ninth Inning Rally Earns Sioux Falls Canaries First Victory
For seven innings Friday night, the Sioux Falls Canaries were dominating the Sioux City Explorers and looked like they were going to walk away with a shutout win. An eighth inning rally by the home team found the Canaries trailing in the ninth, but clutch hitting pulled the game out from the jaws of defeat and gave Sioux Falls their first victory of the season.
The game was setup as a classic pitcher’s duel, as newcomer and resident American Association Rookie of the Year, Jeremy Strawn squared off against Patrick Johnson. Both pitchers held their opponents scoreless in the first inning, but in the second the Canaries would grab the 1-0 lead. RJ Perucki singled to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a base hit by Richard Stock. A walk to Vickash Ramjit loaded the bases, and it looked like Johnson was in some real trouble, but he remained poised. Harrison Kain hit a sacrifice fly that scored Perucki and then Jerome Pena hit into a double-play to end the inning.
In the fifth Sioux Falls would plate three more. Kain led off with a double and out later Brian Humphries was intentionally walked. That brought David Bergin to the plate, who lined a single scoring Kain. Johnson was pulled for Jimmer Kennedy and he was greeted by a double from Michael Wing that scored Humphries and Bergin home to make it 4-0.
The lead seemed like an insurmountable one as Strawn caught fire. The Canaries starter allowed a two out hit in the second then retired the next 17 hitters. He was hitting his spots and completely keeping the Explorers hitters off balance.
Strawn came out to pitch the eighth inning and simply ran out of gas. Noah Perio singled with one out, and Ino Patro followed with a double moving Perio to third. That would be it for Strawn, as Josh Ferrell would take over. Strawn would leave after pitching 7.1 innings, allowing just 3 hits and a walk, with seven strikeouts. It was a beautiful outing for the right-hander who had the 4-o lead, but two runners were on when he departed.
Matt Koch was the first hitter that Ferrell faced and he opened with a wild pitch that scored Perio and moved Patron to third. Koch then doubled to cut the deficit to two. Matty Johnson followed with a single on a 3-1 offering from Ferrell. That scored Koch, and very quickly the Canaries were clinging to a one-run lead. Tim Cowell followed with a single that advanced Johnson to third. Cowell went to second on the throw, and just like that there were two runners in scoring position and just one out.
The Canaries coaching staff had seen enough. Byron Minnich would come in, but he could not hold the lead. A wild pitch by Minnich scored Johnson to tie the game and an error allowed Cowell to score. Amazingly the Explorers had battled back from a 4-0 deficit to lead 5-4.
This would have been a crushing defeat for the Sioux Falls Canaries, but the club showed great heart. In the ninth Chris Bodishbaugh came on for Sioux City looking to close the game out. Ramjit walked to begin the ninth and Kain followed with a single for his second hit of the evening.
The Explorers manager, Steve Montgomery, turned to Rob Wort looking to end the threat, but like the two Canaries relievers in the previous inning, he began his outing with a wild pitch that moved both runners into scoring position. Jerome Pena then lofted a fly ball to right field that scored Ramjit to tie the game. Two batters later Bergin singled sending Kain in with the go-ahead run, making the score 6-5.
In the ninth the Sioux Falls Canaries turned to Chase Johnson to close out the game. He did so masterfully in just 11 pitches, striking out Michael Lang to end the game, earning his first save of the season.
Minnich (1-0) earned the victory for Sioux Falls and Bodishbaugh (0-1) took the loss. Both Kain and Bergin finished with two hits and Kain scored two runs, while Bergin drove in two. Perio had two hits and a run scored for Sioux City.
The comeback was a big one as these two teams move to Game 3 of their four-game series Saturday night. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier