Sioux City, IA-The Explorers returned a first-inning favor from the night before as they jumped on Lincoln early with a four-run opening frame in an eventual 7-1 victory Sunday night at Lewis & Clark Park.
With the win, Sioux City (41-47) climbed to within 6.5 games of the first-place Saltdogs with 12 games to play. The two teams split the four-game series. The Explorers used back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the first to start the scoring. Oscar Mesa led off with a ground-rule double that bounced up the right field line and over the boundary behind the Lincoln bullpen. Tim Colwell followed with a line-drive double into the gap in right-center that scored Mesa. One out later, Brock Kjeldgaard and Peter Barrows both walked to load the bases. Amos Ramon then smacked a bases-clearing two-out double over the head of the left fielder for a 4-0 cushion.
Lincoln (46-39) scored its only mark of the night in the third on a two-out single to left by Luis Nunez that scored Omar Luna. Luna had walked earlier in the inning. Sioux City added a single run in the fourth on an RBI single by Tim Colwell. Michael Lang scored on the play after he had led off the inning with a line-drive single to center.
The Explorers closed out the scoring in the seventh. Brock Kjeldgaard led off with a single to center. Peter Barrows and Tom Mendonca were both hit by pitches to load the bases. Kjeldgaard scored as Amos Ramon grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Dillon Usiak and Michael Lang both coaxed walks to again load the bases. Oscar Mesa drew a walk to drive in the game’s final run.
Sioux City starter Patrick Johnson (pictured) was stellar on the mound. Johnson (8-5) went seven-and-a-third to pick up the win. He allowed just one earned run on three hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. Zach Varce suffered the loss for Lincoln. Varce (5-8) lasted five innings and gave up five earned runs on seven hits with eight strikeouts and five walks.
The Explorers outhit the Saltdogs 8-3. Tim Colwell went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Oscar Mesa was 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI. Amos Ramon had the three-RBI double.
Sioux City has an off-day Monday before playing a brief two-game series at Sioux Falls Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The X’s have just one home series remaining this season against Gary SouthShore August 26th-28th. For ticket information and promotion specials at Lewis & Clark Park, call 712-277-WINS or visit the Explorers website at www.xsbaseball.com.