It didn’t look like it was going to be a good night for the Sioux City Explorers when Matt Chavez hit a first inning grand slam, but single runs in the second through the fourth pulled the team to within one and a three-run fifth led by Tyler Ogle’s fifth homer of the season helped Sioux City down the Wichita Wingnuts, 6-4. That allowed the team to take three of the games in the four-game set.
The Wichita Wingnuts jumped out to a four-run lead in the first. Tyler Sullivan walked to start off the game and moved to third on a double by Brent Clevlen. T.J. Mittelstaedt walked to load the bases bringing Matt Chavez to the plate. He got ahead 2-1, then drilled his 16th homer of the year, a grand slam, to put his team up by four.
The Sioux City Explorers were held off the board in the first, but would chip away at the lead in each of the next four innings. In the bottom of the second, LeVon Washington hit his sixth home run of the year to make it 4-1.
An inning later, Tony Campana singled with two outs and came all the way around to score on a triple by Michael Lang. Lang attempted to turn that into an inside the park home run, but the relay from Richard Prigatano to Leo Vargos to Zac Fisher gunned him to keep the Wingnuts lead at two.
In the fourth, Joe Bennie singled to start out the frame and then he stole second. Brown retired the next two batters, but Eudor Garcia walked to keep the inning alive and Jonathan Gonzalez followed with a double that scored Bennie to make this a one-run game.
Trailing by one, the Explorers grabbed the lead in the fifth. With one down, Campana walked and then stole second. Lang reached on an error, allowing Campana to score to tie the game. Bennie then replaced Lang on the base path when he hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning. That brought Tyler Ogle to the plate, who crushed his KKK fifth of the year to give Sioux City their first lead, 6-4.
After giving up the grand slam, Justin Vernia (1-0) was absolutely brilliant for the Explorers. He allowed just 2-hits and 3-walks over his next five innings of work, and two of those runners were erased on double-plays. He allowed 5-hits, 5-walks and 4-earned runs.
Ryan Flores came on in the seventh and tossed two outstanding innings to hold the lead. PJ Francescon came on in the ninth and gave up two hits, bringing Christian Stringer to the plate as the go-ahead run. However, Francescon got him to ground out to end the game for his 14th save of the year.
Tony Campana led the Sioux City offense, going 2-3 with a walk and 2-runs scored. Joe Bennie also scored 2-runs and Tyler Ogle drove in 2. The Wichita Wingnuts were led by Matt Chavez, who was 1-2 with a run, 2-walks, and 4-RBI.
Wichita ended their 17-game road trip 6-11. The Wingnuts now return home to begin a three-game series against the Central Division leading Lincoln Saltdogs starting Monday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier