Ralph Henriquez Powers Sioux City Explorers to 8-5 Victory
Fresh off a rather humbling game on Monday night, the Sioux City Explorers showed no ill effects from the previous night’s contest, scoring six-runs in the fifth to defeat the St. Paul Saints 8-5. Ralph Henriquez led the victory with four-RBI and Rob Wort pitched three solid innings of relief to even his record.
This looked like it had the makings of being another Saints victory when the team scored a run in the bottom of the first to take the early lead. Brady Burzynski walked to start the inning and moved to second on a ground out. A fly ball out moved him to third and he scored on a base hit by Angelo Songco to make it 1-0.
Through the first three innings St. Paul starter Eric Veglahn was pitching very well, but in the fourth he found himself in some trouble. Tim Colwell singled with one out, and two batters later Henriquez blasted his fourth homer of the season over the left field wall to give the Explorers the 2-1 lead.
The Saints did what they have done all season long – respond. In the bottom of the frame, the Explorers were able to retire the first two batters of the inning, but Dan Johnson drew a walk and Tanner Vavra followed with a single to put runners at first and second. Next up was Sam Maus, who drilled a ball deep to left-center field that bounced over the fence for a ground rule double. Johnson scored on the play. Burzynski followed with a sharp single to score the two runners, and St. Paul was right back on top, 4-2.
Veglahn was forced to come out because of blisters on his fingers and Mike Strong came on in relief. He could not hold the lead. A walk to Ino Patron and a double by Derrick Robinson started the inning. Michael Lang followed with a double to score both runners and he came home on a single by Tommy Mendonca. Colwell lined a base hit into right that scored Lang. LeVon Washington followed with a single to load the bases with one out, and that would be it for Strong.
Benji Waite came in, but he could not stop the bleeding. A single by Henriquez scored two and the final run came across the plate on a wild pitch. The Explorers had sent 11 men to the plate and scored six runs to take the 8-4 lead.
The St. Paul Saints got one of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning. Tony Thomas doubled to start the frame and scored on a single by Songco. That cut the Explorers lead to three. St. Paul did have an opportunity to cut the deficit even further, but Vavra was thrown out trying to stretch a hit into a double before Songco had crossed the plate and the run was disallowed. That would be the last time they would threaten.
Wort (3-3) pitched extremely well for the win. The right-hander went 3-innings, allowed 3-hits, 3-walks, and a run. He struck out 5. Connor Overton earned his ninth save of the season. Strong (0-1) took the loss.
Henriquez finished 2-4 with a run and 4-RBI for Sioux City. Robinson, Colwell, and Washington also had 2-hits apiece. Songco was 2-4 with 2-RBI for the Saints. Vavra also had 2-hits and scored a run.
The rubber match of this series is tomorrow afternoon. Right-hander John Straka (8-3, 5.42) will go for the St. Paul Saints. He will be opposed by Graham Johnson (5-3, 4.54). Game time is 1:05.
By Robert Pannier