T-Bones Offensive Onslaught Too Much for Explorers, 12-8
The Kansas City T-Bones recorded 16 hits and took advantage of a couple of costly mistakes to down the Sioux City Explorers in Game 1 of the South Division playoff series, 12-8. A big seven run third inning helped put the Explorers behind the eight ball as the T-Bones got offensive production from every part of their lineup to take a 1-0 lead in the best of five series.
After a scoreless first-inning, the Sioux City Explorers would take the lead in the bottom of the second. Dylan Kelly led off with a double to the wall in left-center. He would score when Sebastian Zawada followed with a double into left field to give Sioux City a 1-0 lead.
The lead did not last for very long, however, as the Kansas City T-Bones exploded for seven runs in the top of the third inning. Ramsey Romano led off with a base hit before Austin Biggar drew a four pitch walk. Dylan Tice then doubled into right field, bringing Romano home to tie the score of one. The throw to the plate allowed Biggar to move to third and he would score on a sacrifice fly to give Kansas City the lead. There was one down and no one on, but this inning would turn sour quickly. Base hits by Stewart Ijames and Daniel Nava put two on, and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Casey Gillaspie followed with a double that scored both runners to extend the T-Bones lead to three. Two batters later, Omar Carrizales homered to left field and just like that the Kansas City T-Bones had a 7-1 lead.
This game had suddenly turned ugly, and it looked like Kansas City was going to breeze to an early 1-0 lead in the series. However, Sioux City would battle back by chipping away at the lead, starting in the bottom of the fourth. With one down, Zawada and Adam Sasser delivered back-to-back singles. Kansas City starter Dylan Baker struck out Kyle Wren, but Drew Stankiewicz delivered a clutch single into right field, loading the bases. That brought Nate Samson to the plate, who lined a base hit into right, scoring two. Jeremy Hazelbaker plated Stankiewicz with a base hit to cut the deficit to three.
In the fifth, this became a one run game. A walk to Kelly with one down was followed by a Zawada two run homer down the left field line, and suddenly it looked like the T-Bones were going to let this game get away from them.
However, they responded with three runs in the top of the sixth. Danny Mars singled to start the inning and moved to third on an Ijames double into left. Nava followed with a base hit to left field, bringing home Mars to extend the lead to two. After Tyler Fallwell recorded the first out of the inning on a strikeout, Christian Correa grounded a ball to third that he was able to beat out. Ijames scored on the play and Nava came home on an error to make it 10-6.
The Explorers came right back in the bottom half of the frame. Stankiewicz and Samson each reached on errors to start the inning and both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. That brought Hazelbaker to the plate, who blasted a ball deep to right field. It looked like Hazelbaker was sure the ball was going out, but it bounced off the top of the wall for a long single as both runners came home. Jose Sermo followed by grounding into a double-play as the base running error proved to be costly.
Sioux City looked like they would at least get one of those runs back in the bottom of the eighth, but Henry Owens did quite the Houdini impression to escape unscathed. Wren led off with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch before Stankiewicz walked. That brought Samson to the plate, who hit a shallow fly ball to left that was caught, but the ball was not deep enough for Wren to try to score. Owens then struck out Hazelbaker on five pitches before fanning Sermo to end the frame.
Clinging to a 10-8 lead heading into the top of the ninth, the Kansas City T-Bones would add two more insurance runs. Carrizales brought home both runs with a single to make it 12-8. Carlos Diaz came on in he ninth to finish off the contest.
The T-Bones recorded 16 hits as every player in the lineup had at least one hit. Daniel Nava had four of those hits and scored two runs. Stewart Ijames was 3-5 with two runs scored and three RBI. For Sioux City, Jeremy Hazelbaker had two hits and drove in three and Sebastian Zawada had three hits and three RBI. He also hit his first post-season homerun.
Game 2 will be back in Sioux City on Thursday night. Neither team named their starter yet. First pitch is scheduled for 7:12.
By Robert Pannier
Featured Image Courtesy of the Kansas City T-Bones