Explorers Rally Falls Short in Sioux Falls
By Dan Vaughan, Jr., Sioux City Explorers
SIOUX FALLS, S.D – The Sioux City Explorers (45-41) were one out away from playing extra innings Sunday, but Trevor Achenbach delivered a soft single to right to drive in the winning run as the Sioux Falls Canaries (44-43) claimed the rubber match of the three-game series 6-5.
The loss spoiled a comeback attempt where Sioux City was looking to pick up their first comeback win when trailing after six on the season. The X’s came into the game 0-29 in that category. The Explorers took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a sacrifice fly from Tyler Rando off Canaries starter Ty Culbreth. The X’s added another in the top of the third on another sac fly from Scott Ota to take a 2-0 lead after two and a half innings. Sioux City would seem to be in good shape, having picked up three hits and putting traffic on the bases, but Culbreth would settle down and go 7.2 innings in a no decision. The X’s would score one more run off the lefty in the sixth on an RBI single from Vince Fernandez and a solo home run from Matt Lloyd in the seventh before he exited the game.
Mitchell Verburg got the start for Sioux City and retired the first eight batters he faced before he gave up a single in the third to Cole Pengilly. The Canaries even the score up in the fourth on a leadoff walk by Jabari Henry and a two-run home run to right from Mike Hart off Verburg. The “birds” would take the lead in the fifth on a one-out double by Jordan Barth and an RBI single for Henry to make it 3-2. Once again, it was Hart who hit a two-run homer, his third of the series, to make it 5-2 Canaries.
The X’s would cut the lead down to one as the teams went to the eighth. Perhaps sensing the urgency of the series with the two teams separated by two and half games, the Canaries went to their closer Charlie Hasty (3-3) with one out in the top of the eighth, following the Lloyd solo blast. Hasty would walk John Nogowski then give up a single up the middle to Rando to put runners at first and second. Hasty would get Fernandez to fly out to left but surrender the game tying double to Kyle Kasser down the left field line. The Explorers would have runners stranded at second and third when Hasty retired Miguel Sierra on a line out too short.
The Explorers also turned to their closer, bringing in Sean Rackoski (5-5) in the bottom of the eighth. The right-hander would retire the side with two strikeouts. In the top of the ninth, after two quick outs, Sioux City would get two on against Hasty. Ota would single then Lloyd would work a walk to put runners at first and second. Hasty then retired Nogowski on a fly to left to end the inning.
In the home half of the ninth, Barth would reach on an infield single. Rackoski then struck out Henry for the second out in the inning. Mike Hart would walk to put runners at first and second, and with two outs, he set up the Achenbach heroics.
The two teams finish the season series with six wins each while the Canaries trim the Explorers lead for second place in the American Association West Division to one and a half games. Sioux Falls plays Monday August 21, while the Explorers will be off before hosting Milwaukee on Tuesday.
The Explorers will begin a three-game series as part of the final six-game homestand of the season Tuesday night August 22 against the Milwaukee Milkmen at 7:05 p.m. 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.