Laredo Lemurs Rebound to Even Series Behind Garcia, Brebbia
In the deciding Game 5 of the divisional series against the Wichita Wingnuts, Henry Garcia was not able to survive the third inning as he feel behind only to see his team bail him out and win 8-6 to advance to the American Association Championship series. Thursday night, with his team in need of a dominating performance to avoid falling behind 0-2 at home, Garcia gave them six outstanding innings, and John Brebbia finished the game off with three outstanding innings of his own to give the Laredo Lemurs a 5-2 victory over the Sioux City Explorers that evened the series at one game apiece.
Despite the seven runs scored, this was a game that was truly a pitchers’ duel. Each team only scored in one inning, as the pitchers took control of this game from the very start.
Ryan Zimmerman started for the Explorers. The league ERA leader had gotten into trouble early in his one start in the divisional round, but battled all game long and left after giving up one run, despite allowing 10 runners to reach base in 5.2 innings pitched. He would not be so fortunate on this night.
The Lemurs did not score in the first, but in the second they would get on the board. Travis Denker got it started by drawing a walk to begin the frame and moved to second on a base hit by Phil Pohl. Drew Martinez then laid down a perfect sacrifice to put both runners into scoring position with one out. Juan Silverio then hit a ground ball to short, but Noah Perio’s throw to first was not in time to get Silverio and Denker scored to give Laredo their first lead in the series. Roger Bernal followed with an infield single of his own that scored Pohl and Laredo Lemurs led 2-0.
There were still two on and one out with Ty Morrison at the plate. He doubled down the left field line to score Silverio and Bernal scored on a ground out by Abel Nieves that moved Morrison to third. Kevin Taylor then delivered a single that scored Morrison and it was 5-0 Laredo.
Garcia was pitching brilliantly for the Lemurs. He did not allow a hit through the first three innings, and was working the plate keeping the Explorers off balance. In the fourth Sioux City finally mounted a rally, and Garcia did an amazing job of keeping the damage minimal.
Michael Lang singled to get it started and the red-hot Rene Tosoni was hit by a pitch to put two on with no one out. Brock Kjeldgaard walked to load the bases and Perio followed with a single into right field that scored both Lang and Tosoni. It was now 5-2 with the tying run at the plate.
This was a chance for the Explorers to douse that Laredo lead and maybe even get the lead for themselves, but not on Garcia’s watch. The Lemurs starter fell behind Ryan Court 3-0, then worked the count full before getting the Explorers second baseman to fly out. Tommy Mendonca struck out, but Matt Koch drew a walk to load the bases. The dangerous Brent Keys was the next hitter, but Garcia blew him away to end the inning and keep it a three-run game.
From there it would be all pitching. Zimmerman came out after 3.2 innings, and Jimmer Kennedy took over, pitching three scoreless innings of relief. Three other Sioux City relievers pitched the final 1.1 innings to keep the score 5-2.
Following the two runs in the fourth Garcia retired six of the final seven hitters he faced, only giving up a leadoff single in the sixth. He was pulled after 6 innings, allowing 3 hits, 3 walks and 2 earned runs. He struck out 5.
In the seventh manager Pete Incaviglia turned to his closer and Brebbia was just awesome. He went the final three innings, allowing two singles in the seventh and one in the ninth, but keeping Sioux City off the scoreboard. He struck out five to record his third save of the playoffs.
Morrison was 2-5 with a run and an RBI for Laredo. Silverio was 2-4 with a run and an RBI as well. Taylor was 2-4 with an RBI. Lang and Keys had 2-4 nights for Sioux City.
The series switches to Sioux City for Game 3 Saturday night.
By Robert Pannier