Sioux City, IA-Following a one-hour rain delay, the Explorers used a three-run eighth inning to cap a 7-5 come-from-behind win over rival Sioux Falls Friday night at Lewis & Clark Park.
Sioux City (13-22) book-ended the game with three-run innings. In the bottom of the first, Oscar Mesa led off with a line-drive single to left-center. Andres Perez followed with a line-drive single to right. Rene Tosoni then singled up the middle for a 1-0 lead. The next batter, Nate Samson, made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to right. Following a bunt single off the bag at third by Tom Mendonca, another sac fly to right from newly acquired Amos Ramon pushed it to a 3-0 advantage.
Sioux Falls (12-21) scored its first run of the game in the fourth. Shelby Ford led off the inning with a single to right-center. A.J. Kirby-Jones singled to center and advanced Ford to third. Following a stolen base, Chris Valencia placed a sacrifice fly to left that scored Ford.
Down 3-1 entering the sixth, the Canaries took flight. Brandon Jones led off with an infield single. Shelby Ford poked a base hit to left-center and took second as Jones was safe at third on the throw. A.J. Kirby-Jones then blasted his third home run of the season high and deep over the left field wall for a 4-3 Sioux Falls lead. After a ground out, Carlos Mendez reached second on a two-base error in the outfield. With two outs, Stephen Branca reached on an infield RBI single and it was 5-3 Canaries.
Both teams went scoreless in the seventh before the Explorers started a two-out rally in the eighth that changed their fortunes. Tom Mendonca was hit by a pitch. Amos Ramon followed with a walk. Sioux Falls made a pitching change and brought in closer Alan DeRatt to face Dillon Usiak. Usiak (pictured) had the biggest blow of the night with a game-altering double off the right-field wall that put Sioux City in front 6-5. Not to be outdone, Todd Jennings drove in Usiak with a bloop single to center for a 7-5 X’s cushion.
On the mound, reliever Jimmer Kennedy posted the win. Kennedy (2-4) pitched two-and-a-third and did not allow a hit with one strikeout. Erick Gonzalez suffered the loss for Sioux Falls. Gonzalez (0-3) went one-and-two-thirds and gave up two earned runs with one walk, a hit batter, and one strikeout. Chris Bodishbaugh pitched the ninth for his fourth save of the season. Bodishbaugh gave up one hit and struck out one.
At the plate for the Explorers, Andres Perez had a two-hit night with a run scored. Tom Mendonca went 2-for-3 with a run. For the Canaries, A.J. Kirby-Jones was 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs. Shelby Ford went 2-for-4 with two runs.
Sioux City continues its seven-game home stand Saturday night with game two against I-29 rival Sioux Falls. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. For ticket information and promotion specials at Lewis & Clark Park, call 712-277-WINS or visit the Explorers website at www.xsbaseball.com.