Hobbs Johnson Shuts Down Saints Bats; Explorers Win 8-1
The Sioux City Explorers entered Tuesday night’s game trailing the Lincoln Saltdogs by two-games in the Central Division of the American Association. They needed a big victory, and got it, getting 7.1 outstanding innings from Hobbs Johnson on their way to an 8-1 victory over the St. Paul Saints. Nate Samson drove in 3-runs and Tony Campana and Dylan Kelly each had 3-hits in the victory
After two scoreless innings, the Sioux City Explorers took the lead with two-runs in the third against John Straka. Dylan Kelly singled to center, and Josh Vitters followed by hitting into a fielder’s choice that put him on first. Alex White grounded to third, but the ball was misplayed and White reached. Troy Campana followed with a base hit that scored Vitters and it was 1-0. Nate Samson then reached on an error that scored White and the Explorers lead was two.
In the top of the sixth, the Explorers extended their lead to four. White started the inning by reaching on an error by the Saints third baseman for the second time in the game. A base hit by Campana moved White to second before a wild pitch moved White to third. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Samson to make it 3-0. Jayce Ray singled to move Campana to third and he scored on a fielder’s choice by Brian Fortier. That extended the lead to four.
In the seventh, Sioux City extended their lead to five. With Connor Little on the hill, Kelly hit a ball that bounced over the left field wall for a ground rule double. Vitters followed with a single that moved Kelly to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Campana. That made it 5-0.
Hobbs Johnson had been at top of his game for the Explorers. Whenever he found himself in trouble he found a way to get out of it. He allowed a hit and a walk in the first, but induced a double-play to end the threat. In the fourth, he allowed a one-out single and walk before getting a ground out and a strike out to end the threat. He had given up 4-walks and 4-hits through the first 7-innings, but the Saints seemed to have no answers on how to get a run across the plate.
Johnson would leave in the eighth after issuing a one-out walk to Tanner Vavra and St. Paul would finally get on the board. Todd Eaton came on and retired Nate Hanson, but a wild pitch moved Vavra to third and he scored on a double by Brady Shoemaker to make it 5-1.
In the ninth, Sioux City added three more runs. Kelly and Vitters started the inning with back-to-back singles. Campana singled two batters later to load the bases with one out, and Samson brought home two runs with a base hit. A two-out single by Brian Fortier scored Campana to make it 8-1.
Hobbs Johnson (3-1) went 7.1-innings, allowing 4-hits, 5-walks, and just 1-run. He struck out 4. Nate Samson drove in 3-runs for Sioux City. Troy Campana and Dylan Kelly each went 3-4 for the Explorers. Campana scored 2-runs and added 2-RBI. Kelly scored a run. Tony Thomas had 2-hits for the St. Paul Saints.
Game 2 of this three-game series is tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier