X's Hold on to Take First Game of Series from Saltdogs
Lincoln, NE - The Sioux City Explorers and Lincoln Saltdogs traded five run rallies in the ball game but Sioux City was able to outlast and hold on for the 6-5 win.
Both starting pitchers in this one started off strong as Kyle Kinman for the Saltdogs allowed just a bunt single through the first 4.2 innings he pitched. And at one point retired 10 straight batters. But Daniel Jackson with two outs in the top of the fifth doubled to right center field. David Kerian followed him with a double of his own off the left field wall to give the X's a 1-0 lead. Kerian would score on a Luis Durango single and make it 2-0 Sioux City. Michael Lang singled and then Jay Austin brought both Lang and Durango home with a 2-run double. Nate Samson brought home Austin with a RBI single making it 5-0 X's after five.
That rally knocked Kinman (4-2) out of the game as he went 5 innings, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits, striking out 4 and walking 1.
The Explorers added another run in the sixth as Dylan Kelly doubled and on the play advanced to third on an error by the center fielder. He would score on a Luis Durango base hit to make it 6-0 Sioux City.
Justin Vernia (8-1) looked like he was his usual sharp self through the first five innings as he allowed only a single hit to the Saltdogs but Lincoln would get to him in the sixth as the first 5 men reached base against him in the frame. Christian Ibarra had the big blow as he came up with the bases loaded and no one out and cleared them with a double to left field. Ibarra would score on a double by TJ Bennett cutting the X's lead to 6-4. Bennett scored on a Curt Smith single to cut the X's lead down to one run 6-5. Ryan Flores came into the game for Sioux City, Lincoln loaded the bases with two outs but Flores was able to lead the bases loaded and end the inning with the X's still in front.
That was the last time Lincoln would threaten in the game, as Ryan Flores and Eric Karch combined to pitch a perfect last three innings of the game. Karch (11) picked up the rare six out save as he pitched a perfect eighth and ninth just after pitching a perfect ninth the previous night and picking up a save.
With the win Sioux City is now 25-5 on the road this season and improves to 10-0 on Friday nights.
The X's and Saltdogs will play game two of the series on Saturday night with first pitch set for 7:05 as lefty Ian McKinney makes his first start in an Explorers uniform against south paw Eric Wooten for the Saltdogs.
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