The Sioux City Explorers grabbed their seventh win in their last 10 games, riding the arm of Ryan Zimmerman in an 8-2 win over the Grand Prairie AirHogs. The right-hander was supported by a 14-hit attack that moved the Explorers to just one game behind first place Gary Southshore in the Central Division of the American Association.
Sioux City jumped in front in the top of the second inning against Grand Prairie AirHogs starter Bennett Whitmore. Ryan Court singled to begin the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Tim Colwell. A passed ball moved Court to third, and he scored when Matt Koch lined a hard grounder into left field to make it 1-0 Explorers.
The visitors extended their lead in the top of the third. Michael Lang singled to begin the inning and moved to third on a single by Rene Tosoni. Brock Kjeldgaard grounded to short and was thrown out at first, however, Lang scored and Tosoni moved to second. Noah Perio then drilled a ball to the wall and raced to third for a triple, with Tosoni scoring on the play. A Court single followed, plating Perio and giving Sioux Falls the 4-0 lead.
The Explorers scored another run in the top of the fourth. Matt Johnson drew a walk with one out and moved to second on a base hit by Lang. Johnson stole second and scored on a Tosoni ground out to extend the lead to five.
Ryan Zimmerman had pitched extremely well for the Sioux City Explorers through the first four innings. The Explorers starter had allowed a lead-off single, then retired the next 13 hitters.
In the fifth, the AirHogs were finally able to get on the board against him. With two outs Victor Ferrante singled and scored on a double by Chris Elder. That made it 5-1.
Sioux City responded with a run of their own in the top of the sixth. With two outs Lang tripled and scored on a hard hit ball by Tosoni that the first baseman could not make a play on. The single drove home Lang and restored the five-run lead.
In the eighth both teams got on the scoreboard. In the top half of the inning Koch doubled to begin the frame, and came home on a double by Tommy Medonca. Three batters later Tosoni doubled to bring home Mendonca and it was 8-1.
In the bottom of the eighth Ferrante took a 2-2 pitch from Zimmerman and deposited it over the left field fence for his second home run of the season. That would be the last run either team would score.
Zimmerman (1-1) evened his record with the win, going 8 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 earned runs. He struck out 4 in his 100 pitch performance. Whitmore (0-2) took the loss.
Lang and Tosoni were big keys to the win. Lang had 4 hits in 5 trips to the plate and scored 2 runs. Tosoni was 3-5 with a run and 3 RBI. Court also had 3 hits; he added a run and an RBI.
By Robert Pannier