X's Can't Deliver Clutch Hits in Home Finale, Pushed to Brink in Finals
Sioux City, IA - It wasn't a must win for the Sioux City Explorers in game two of the American Association Finals but it was darn close to it. Trailing the series one game to none to the St. Paul Saints the X's were eyeing a split in the first two games of the Finals to head to CHS Field evened up. However the Saints had different plans as they beat the Explorers 3-2 to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.
Sioux City was the ones to get off to a quick start offensively as Drew Stankiewicz and Jose Sermo both went deep with solo homers in the first two innings to put the X's up 2-0.
It gave Sioux City starter Pete Tago some room to work as he delivered a quality start for the X's. Tago would toss four shut out innings out of the gate for the X's. But rolling into the fifth St. Paul had never really mounted a threat trailing 2-0. But a walk and a wild pitch to start the inning put a runner at second for St. Paul. Chris Baker then brought home the run with a base hit to cut the Sioux City lead in half. Baker in the post season now has six RBI's on two hits. Michael Lang would come up with two on and one out and bounce a double down the right field line to tie the game at two.
Tago took a no decision as he tossed six innings allowing two runs on just five hits, walking three and striking out nine.
On the other end of the pitching matchup was Saints starter Eddie Medina. He surrendered the two solo homers to begin the night but would consistently shut down possible Explorers rallies. Sioux City loaded the bags with one out in the fourth but a pair of punch outs would end that threat. A lead off double in the fifth put the go ahead run in scoring position for the Explorers but again could not drive home the run.
Medina took the no decision as he tossed six innings of two run ball, allowing seven hits, four walks and nine strikeouts. Five of those nine punch outs came when the X's had runners in scoring position.
Sioux City once again had chances to score in the late innings. In the seventh Dexture McCall came up with the bases loaded and two out in a tie ball game and hit a ground ball to the right side. The second baseman for the Saints Josh Allen raced over to field it and threw across his body to the pitcher covering in what was the defensive play of the series so far to save the run from scoring and to keep it a tie game.
In the eighth Kyle Wren was able to collect a hit with a runner at second but the X's could not get the run home on the play, on the throw to the plate on the single, Wren attempted to advance another 90 feet and take second but was thrown out on the play at second to end the inning and the possible rally.
For the second straight night the Explorers could not drive in runs when the opportunity presented itself. They outhit the Saints ten to six, and worked eight walks, but left 12 men stranded as they went 1-10 with runners in scoring position with seven strikeouts. In the first two games of this series Sioux City has left 27 men on base and has went 2-25 (.080) with no RBI's when there are runners in scoring position with 11 strikeouts as clutch hits have eluded Sioux City bats.
In the ninth Tyler Fallwell (0-1) was beginning his third inning of work. Fallwell was yet again fantastic for the Explorers out of the bullpen as he struck out six over his three innings of work. But he would hit the lead off batter, and a sacrifice bunt and a strikeout later brought up former Explorer, Michael Lang, with a runner at second base and two out. Lang laced his second double of the night down the left field line to put St. Paul up 3-2 in the ninth.
In the home half of the ninth Sioux City got the lead off man with a walk but St. Paul would turn their third double play of the night. Another walk brought up Sermo and with his power a chance to win the game but would strikeout against Tanner Kiest (3) who earned the save for the Saints.
The Saints now take a commanding 2-0 series lead as they are a win away from ending their 15 year title drought. The Explorers will have to win the three remaining games of the series with all of them coming at CHS Field in St. Paul where the Saints have not lost a game yet this post season.
Sioux City will attempt to keep their season alive on Saturday on the road at St. Paul with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm. Taylor Jordan (0-0, 1.42) will get the ball for the X's to try and keep the season alive and he will face Ryan Zimmerman (0-0, 0.00) for St. Paul.
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American Association Stories from September 13, 2019
- Saints City of Baseball Museum Honored with Top Ballpark Improvement by Ballpark Digest - St. Paul Saints
- X's Can't Deliver Clutch Hits in Home Finale, Pushed to Brink in Finals - Sioux City Explorers
- American Association Game Recap - AA
- Lang Haunts Former Team, Saints Win Game Two of American Association Finals 3-2, One Win Shy of Title - St. Paul Saints
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