Sioux City, IA-The Explorers saw their playoff chances disintegrate as they committed a season-high six errors in a 15-8 loss to Gary SouthShore Wednesday night at Lewis & Clark Park.
Sioux City (45-50) had its six-game winning streak over the RailCats come to an end as Gary improved to 7-9 in the season series. SouthShore (51-44) stayed even with Lincoln for first-place in the Central Division as the Saltdogs won at Sioux Falls. The Explorers opened the night on a positive note with a two-run home run to deep left from Brock Kjeldgaard that staked the club to a 2-0 lead after one.
Gary went to work offensively in the top of the second. Henry Wrigley led off the inning with a line-drive single to left. Josh Romanski followed with the same. Craig Maddox walked to load the bases. Ryan Babineau then tied it with a two-run scoring single to right. An infield single from Wally Backman loaded the bases again. Drew Muren walked to give the RailCats a 3-2 lead. The fourth run scored on an infield error. Gary made it 5-2 as Backman scored on a sacrifice fly to center from Zac Mitchell.
Sioux City scored a single run in the second. Back-to-back doubles by Tom Mendonca and Amos Ramon cut the deficit to 5-3. SouthShore plated a run in the third. Josh Romanski led off the inning with a double into the left field corner. Ryan Babineau drove in Romanski with a line-drive single to left for a 6-3 cushion. The Explorers inched closer with a two-spot in the fifth inning. Brock Kjeldgaard and Peter Barrows each provided two-out RBI singles to center that made it 6-5. Both men were eventually left stranded and the X’s did not creep any closer the rest of the night.
Gary scored five more in the sixth for an 11-5 advantage. The inning was highlighted by a two-run home run from Drew Muren. It was Muren’s second dinger in as many games. The RailCats tacked on two in the eighth for a 13-5 lead. Sioux City answered with three in the bottom of the inning with Michael Lang and Oscar Mesa providing the key base hits. Mesa had a two-run double. SouthShore finalized their blowout win with a two-run ninth. Former Explorer Wally Backman launched a solo home run in the inning.
On the mound, Sioux City starter Patrick Johnson took the loss. Johnson (9-6) went five innings and gave up six runs (five earned) on six hits with three strikeouts and four walks. Shawn O’Neill posted the win in relief for Gary. O’Neill (1-3) retired the only batter he faced in the fifth. At the plate, Wally Backman had three hits with three runs and an RBI. Henry Wrigley, Josh Romanski, and Ryan Babineau all collected two hits. Wrigley scored three times and Babineau drove in three. For the X’s, Oscar Mesa and Brock Kjeldgaard both had two hits. Kjeldgaard drove in three while Mesa had two RBIs. The 15 runs were the most given up by the Explorers in a game all season.
Sioux City has just one home game remaining. The X’s face Gary SouthShore Thursday night at 7:05 followed by a fireworks show. The team closes out the season with four games at Lincoln. For ticket information and promotion specials at Lewis & Clark Park, call 712-277-WINS or visit the Explorers website at www.xsbaseball.com.