Sioux City, IA-For a second consecutive night, the Explorers turned a season-long nemesis (the one-run game) into a best friend with a 7-6 walk-off win over first-place Gary SouthShore Thursday at Lewis & Clark Park.
With the win, Sioux City (27-39) moved its record in one-run games to 9-13. Between one-run and two-run games, the Explorers are now a combined 13-20. The X’s fell behind by a wide-margin early on in the contest as the RailCats pounced for five runs in the first. The first four Gary batters reached on singles. Zac Mitchell and Ryan Babineau each drove in a run with a base hit. Mitchell later scored from third on a wild pitch. A one-out walk put another runner on base, and Miles Walding spanked a single to left for two more and it was 5-0.
The Explorers plated a single run in the bottom of the first. With two outs, Rene Tosoni singled sharply into center. A bloop-single to center by Andres Perez (pictured) advanced Tosoni to third, and he later scored on a wild pitch. Sioux City added another solo mark in the third. Tosoni cranked a two-out double up the left-field line, and Perez drove him in with a line-drive single to left that made it 5-2.
Gary SouthShore (38-27) scored its final run of the night in the fifth. Wally Backman sprayed a line-drive single into center. The next batter, Cody Bishop, tripled to the wall in right-center for a 6-2 cushion.
A two-run sixth for Sioux City narrowed the gap again. Andres Perez led off the inning with an infield single. Perez took second on the play as the throw sailed high into the stands behind first base. Peter Barrows followed with an RBI triple high off the center field wall that cut the deficit to three. After a fly-out, Barrows scored as Tom Mendonca drove in his first run of the game on a liner to center. It was 6-4 through six.
Fast-forward to the eighth, where the Explorers used some more two-out magic to draw even. Back-to-back one-out walks put Andres Perez and Peter Barrows on at first and second. Amos Ramon moved the runners up with a ground ball out back to the pitcher. Tom Mendonca then plastered a base hit right by the feet of the pitcher and into center field for a 6-6 tie.
In the bottom of the ninth, Chris Escobar led off for the Explorers with a bunt single over the mound. Following a strikeout, Escobar was caught stealing. A two-out walk of Michael Lang kept the inning alive. Lang stole second and later scored as Rene Tosoni provided the game-winning RBI single on a line-drive to right that ended the night.
The Sioux City bullpen once again provided a lift. Alex Burnett pitched just one-third of an inning to post the win. Burnett (2-1) struck out the only batter he faced. Kenny Long worked two hitless and scoreless frames out of the pen as well. Long had one strikeout and one walk. James Parr took the loss for Gary. Parr (1-2) pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up one earned run on two hits with one walk and one strikeout.
At the plate, three batters for the Explorers posted three-hit games. Andres Perez went 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Tom Mendonca was 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Rene Tosoni finished 3-for-5 with two runs and an RBI. For the RailCats, Daniel Pulfer went 4-for-5 with a run. Zac Mitchell was 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Each team had 12 hits in the game and one error. The X’s are now 5-6 against Gary this season.
Sioux City will travel up I-29 to face rival Sioux Falls for a three-game weekend set before the all-star break. First pitch Friday night at the Birdcage is scheduled for 7:05. The Explorers return on Wednesday July 30th for an eight-game home stand against Fargo-Moorhead and Winnipeg. For ticket information and promotion specials at Lewis & Clark Park, call 712-277-WINS or visit the Explorers website at www.xsbaseball.com.