Sioux City, IA-The Explorers pitching staff walked a season-high ten batters in a 6-4 loss to Fargo-Moorhead Wednesday night at Lewis & Clark Park.
With the defeat, Sioux City (28-42) is now 2-6 against the RedHawks this season. Fargo set the tone early with a three-run top of the first. Zach Penprase led off the inning with a single to left and later stole second. Ronnie Bourquin followed with a walk. C.J. Retherford then lined a single into left to load the bases. Erik Castro drove in the first run with a single on the ground into right field. After a strikeout, Sawyer Carroll made it 3-0 on a left-center field double that scored Bourquin and Retherford.
The next three innings went scoreless before Fargo-Moorhead (34-35) added a single tally in the fifth. Following a hit batter and a balk, Nic Jackson singled home C.J. Retherford for a 4-0 cushion. The Explorers finally dented the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth. Tom Mendonca led off with a double up the right field line. With two outs, Michael Lang coaxed a walk to reach base. Oscar Mesa (pictured) loaded the bases with an infield single in the hole at short. Tim Colwell then cut the lead in half on a seeing-eye single into center that scored both Mendonca and Lang. It was 4-2 Fargo through five.
The RedHawks kept the pressure on with two more marks in the seventh. Sawyer Carroll started the inning off with a bloop single into center. A double to deep right-center by Brandon Tripp put runners at second and third. After a strikeout, Travis Higgs reached on a fielder’s choice and Tripp scored on a throwing error by the catcher. A single to center from Zach Penprase scored Higgs for a 6-2 lead.
Sioux City cut into the lead in back-to-back innings. In the seventh, Michael Lang reached on a one-out walk. Oscar Mesa scored Lang on a double into the gap in left-center. In the eighth, Peter Barrows led off with a line-drive double up the left side. With two outs, Lang singled a liner into center that scored Barrows and cut the deficit to 6-4. Mesa struck out with runners at second and third to end the rest of the threat.
On the mound, Brian Ernst notched the victory for Fargo. Ernst (7-4) worked six innings and gave up two earned runs on four hits with six strikeouts and three walks. Former RedHawk Alex Caldera took the loss for Sioux City. Caldera lasted five-and-two-thirds and yielded four earned runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and six walks. He also hit a batter and had a balk. Nate Garcia walked a batter in the ninth but earned his 15th save of the season. The pitching staffs combined to strike out 21 (Fargo-10, Sioux City-11), but walked 17.
At the plate, Oscar Mesa had the only two-hit night for the Explorers. In addition, Tim Colwell drove in two. For the RedHawks, C.J. Retherford went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, and Sawyer Carroll was 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Zach Penprase had two hits with a run and an RBI. Fargo outhit the X’s 12 to 7. The RedHawks stranded 13 base runners while Sioux City left 10 men on base.
Sioux City squares off with Fargo-Moorhead in game two of an eight-game home stand Thursday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05. For ticket information and promotion specials at Lewis & Clark Park, call 712-277-WINS or visit the Explorers website at www.xsbaseball.com.