Explorers Win in Extras to Earn Split
By Austin Thomas, Sioux City Explorers
GARY, IN – The Sioux City Explorers (39-36) split both parts of Sunday’s doubleheader at the Gary SouthShore RailCats (32-42), losing game one 5-2, but claiming victory in game two 3-2. After splitting the doubleheader, the Explorers took the series at Gary as their third series win in a row and move to 1.5 games ahead of the Lincoln Saltdogs for second place in the West Division.
The first game of the day didn’t see any runs until the third inning and Sioux City’s Chase Harris started things off by becoming the first Explorer to reach base with a single off Gary starter Edward Cuello (3-8). X’s Daniel Perez followed up with a double to push Harris to third before Scott Ota sent Harris home on a sac fly to left field, giving Sioux City an 1-0 lead.
The RailCats began to pick up momentum with two singles before a double from Gary’s Jesus Marriaga off Explorers starter Jared Wetherbee (2-2), but Daniel Lingua was thrown out at home to keep the game 1-0. Despite the defensive play, the RailCats were able to take a 3-1 lead when LG Castillo ripped a two-out homer as part of his perfect 2-2 game from the plate.
After two innings of scoreless ball, the X’s cut the deficit to one thanks to Sioux City’s Scott Ota’s leadoff homer off Gary’s Cuello, making it 3-2.
The RailCats responded in the bottom of the inning by loading the bases on Explorers reliever Brenden Heiss before Gary’s Lingua picked up a two-RBI double off X’s Nate Gercken, finishing off his 3-4 game and extending their lead to 5-2.
RailCats Jack Eisenbarger checked in for the seventh and final inning of game one, striking out one in a scoreless frame to earn the save (1) and end the X’s four-game win streak.
Gary scored quickly in game two, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning after RailCats Gio Diaz scored on a throwing error from Sioux City third baseman Matt Lloyd trying to catch Jesus Marriaga on his way to first base.
The X’s tied it in the third inning thanks to a leadoff homer from Explorers Scott Ota off Gary starter Jose Betances, knotting it 1-1.
Sioux City took the 2-1 lead the next inning when X’s Miguel Sierra scored on a wild pitch from RailCats Oddy Nunez, but the lead didn’t last long as Gary tied it in the bottom of the frame on a Marcos Gonzales RBI single off Explorers starter Austin Drury, sending home LG Castillo to make it 2-2.
While both teams threatened to score, it remained 2-2 after seven innings, sending it to extras. With Sioux City’s Miguel Sierra serving as the automatic baserunner, he moved to third on Chase Harris’ sac bunt before Scott Ota hit the go-ahead sac fly off Gary reliever DJ Wilkinson (4-3) to send Sierra home, giving the X’s a 3-2 lead.
Sean Rackoski (15) came in for the eighth and, thanks to Wilfredo Gimenez catching Jesus Marriaga stealing, earned the save to split the doubleheader and claim the series.
The Explorers will enjoy an off day in Fargo on August 7 and open a three-game series Tuesday night August 8 against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at 7:00 p.m. at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo, North Dakota. 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.