Bates Gem Propels Explorers to Victory
By Dan Vaughan, Jr., Sioux City Explorers
GARY, IN – The Sioux City Explorers (38-35) used seven quality innings from Solomon Bates (8-5) and a workman-like effort offensively to take game one of the three-game series over the Gary SouthShore Railcats (31-41) Friday night at The Steel Yard.
With Bates facing Gary SouthShore righty John Sheaks (6-5), offense was at a standstill most of the game. The pair both tossed quality starts with Sheaks going eight innings in a hard-luck loss. It was Bates though who set the tone early for the Explorers, striking out two of the first batters he faced.
The X’s, who came in hitting .313 over the last week, did not explode at the plate but did just enough to carve out three runs on the evening. In the top of the fifth, a leadoff double by Miguel Sierra and a single to right would put runners at first and second off Sheaks. Scott Ota would bring home Sierra on a sac fly to center field to make it 1-0 Sioux City.
In the top of the sixth, the Explorers would manufacture a pair of runs to add to their lead. Vince Fernandez led off with a single off Sheaks and would be followed by a double from Kyle Kasser to put runners at second and third. Wilfredo Gimenez, who returned from the Injured List earlier in the day, hit a sac fly to center to make it 2-0 in favor of the X’s. Daniel Perez hit a fielder’s choice to first to score Kasser from third to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Railcats would finally get to Bates in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Gio Diaz would single and come home on an RBI double from Jackson Valera to cut the deficit to 3-1. Jesus Marriaga hit an RBI single to cut the lead to 3-2. Bates would buckle down and strikeout Jacob Bockelie and retire LG Castillo on a fly ball to center to end the inning.
Bates would work a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh for the Explorers. Sioux City would turn to the bullpen in the eighth, and Brandon Brosher would respond with another scoreless inning. Sean Rackoski then took the mound in the bottom of the ninth to close out the game with another three-up and three-down inning for his 14th save.
Bates, who came into the game leading the league in strikeouts, would go seven innings, adding eight punchouts for the Explorers. The California native now has 106 on the season and pulls into a tie for the seventh all-time in single-season strikeouts for the X’s.
The Explorers will play game two of the three-game series Saturday afternoon in Chicagoland against the Gary SouthShore Railcats. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. from the Steel Yard in Gary, Indiana. Tickets for the season can be purchased online as XSBaseball.com, in person at the Lewis and Clark Park Box Office or by calling 712-277-WINS. You can catch all the X’s action on aabaseball.tv and on radio at KSCJ 94.9 FM and 1360 AM with the pregame beginning 30 minutes prior to first pitch.