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Wingnuts Keep X's at Bay and Playoff Hopes Alive

September 2, 2018 - American Association (AA) - Sioux City Explorers News Release

Wichita, KS - The Wichita Wingnuts who are fighting for their playoff lives defeated the Sioux City Explorers 4-2.

Wichita lead wire to wire in the ball game as Zach Nehrir hit his eighth home run of the year in the bottom of the first inning and the solo blast gave the Wingnuts a 1-0 lead.

Wichita extended their lead in the second. A one out single by Chase Simpson who had a three hit performance was then followed by a walk by John Nester. After a fly ball to right field put runners on the corners with one out, Leo Vargas put a double into the right center field gap which scored both base runners and put the Wingnuts up 3-0.

Sioux City would get a run back in the fourth as Dean Green crushed his third home run with the Explorers to center field and the solo homer made it 3-1 Wichita.

But the Wingnuts would get that run back in the home half of the inning. A lead off walk to Tony Thomas proved costly, as he was able to get to third base after a hit and run and score on a sacrifice fly by Nick Rotola to put Wichita up 4-1.

All those runs were charged to X's starter Justin Vernia. Vernia (12-2) went 7 innings while surrendering the 4 runs on 7 hits, and struck out 6 and walked 2. It was only the second time this year that the Explorers lost a game in which Vernia was on the mound and the first time since May 20th at Lincoln in the fourth game of the season.

Sioux City scored their second run of the game in the sixth as Jose Sermo singled and Green walked. A wild pitch would advance them both up a base and on the play John Nester the Wichita catcher attempted to throw Green out at second but the ball ended up in center field and Sermo would score.

Jordan Cooper shut down the Explorers for most of the night. As Cooper (11-6) went 6.2 innings, allowed 2 runs, 1 earned and scattered 7 hits, he struck out and walked 2.

The Wingnuts bullpen would shut down the X's, recording all 7 outs they were called upon to get. And Daniel Tillman with a perfect ninth picked up his 12th save of the year.

The Wingnuts need to sweep the Explorers and for Gary SouthShore to sweep Kansas City to make it to the 2018 post season in the American Association. Gary beat Kansas City 9-1 and with the win tonight Wichita's playoff hopes are still alive.

They will look to keep them alive on Sunday afternoon as the X's and Wingnuts play game two of the series at 1:05.

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