Patrick Johnson Untouchable in Sioux City Explorers 10-2 Victory
Patrick Johnson is proving in the post-season that his 15-1 record during the regular season was no fluke. After one hitting the St. Paul Saints in Game 2 of the divisional series, the right-hander pitched six-innings of shutout ball to lead the Sioux City Explorers to a 10-2 victory over the Laredo Lemurs in Game 1 of the American Association Championship series.
The Explorers got off to a fast start in this contest. Michael Lang singled with one out against Laredo starter Luis Pollorena and Rene Tosoni followed with a single to put two on with one out. Brock Kjeldgaard walked to load the bases and Noah Perio hit a sacrifice fly that scored Lang to make it 1-0. Next up was Ryan Court, who struggled in the divisional round, but he delivered a big hit here, ripping a double into right field that scored both runners to make it 3-0. Court was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a triple, but the damage was done and Sioux City would not look back.
From there neither team was able to put any runs on the scoreboard. The Laredo starter looked shaky at times, but managed to keep the Explorers from scoring. In the fifth Roger Bernal relieved and he threw three scoreless inning to keep it a three-run game.
Meanwhile Johnson was just brilliant. His only challenging innings came in the third and fourth, when the Lemurs were able to get two runners aboard, but in both frames he used his dominating fastball to challenge the Laredo hitters and get out of the jams, striking out two batters in each inning. Johnson retired the final seven batters he faced, striking out four. For the day he went 6 innings, allowed 4 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 10.
The close game was finally broken open in the eighth. Luis De La Cruz relieved for Laredo and Court greeted him with a single and then stole second. Tommy Mendonca followed with a single that moved Court to third and Matt Koch’s fielder’s choice scored Court. Brent Keys and Matty Johnson followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases, and after a Lang fielder’s choice cut down Koch at the plate, Tosoni cleared the bases with a three-run double. That made the score 7-0.
The Lemurs broke up the shut out in the bottom of the inning against Ryan Strufing. Abel Nieves singled with one out and Denis Phipps doubled two batters later. Travis Denker was walked to load the bases with two outs and Ty Forney singled to scored Nieves and Phipps to make it 7-2.
In the top of the ninth the Sioux City Explorers got those runs back plus one more. Leondy Perez came on in relief and, after retiring the first hitter, he hit Koch and then gave up a single to Tim Colwell. Johnson then singled to center, scoring Koch, and Tosoni’s two-run single scored Johnson and Colwell to make it 10-2.
Tosoni finished the day 3-6 with a run scored and 5 RBI. Court and Johnson each had three hits as well. Johnson was 3-6 with 2 runs and a run driven in and Court was 3-5 with a run and an RBI. Every player in the Sioux City Explorers starting lineup had at least one hit.
Drew Martinez was 2-4 for the Lemurs. Forney had both of the teamss RBI.
Game 2 will be Thursday night in Laredo. Matt Sergey is expected to go for Laredo against Ryan Zimmerman for the Explorers.
By Robert Pannier