ARTICLE COURTESY OF THE SIOUX CITY JOURNAL
SIOUX FALLS | Ryan Priddy homered twice and drove in five runs Friday night as the Sioux City Explorers, rolling to an early 6-1 lead, held on for a 7-6 American Association baseball win over the I-29 rival Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants.
Overcoming a sloppy night on defense and a rocky debut for new closer Chris Bodishbaugh, the X’s followed up a 7-3 win in Thursday’s season opener and will bring a 2-0 record into their home opener at 7:05 tonight against the Pheasants.
Priddy, who had two hits in four at-bats Thursday, opened up a 4-for-4 performance with an RBI single in the second inning.
The journeyman shortstop rapped another single to help load the bases in the fourth, following Tyler Goodro home on a two-run single by Brandon Newton that snapped a 1-1 tie.
Then, in the fifth, a two-out infield flare by Goodro was knocked down by the wind, enabling the designated hitter to keep the inning alive with an infield single.
Kris Sanchez followed with a single up the middle before Priddy, who homered seven times last season, had a brisk wind from the south help flow a drive to left field over the wall for a three-run homer and the 6-1 advantage.
Sioux Falls, limited to two hits in the first five innings by X’s lefthander Richard Salazar, started an ill-fated comeback with Jonny Kaplan’s solo homer to lead off the bottom of the sixth.
The Pheasants added two more runs with help from a seventh-inning error, chasing Salazar. However, Priddy’s second homer, an eighth-inning solo shot that hooked around the left-field foul pole to greet Dan Cooper, the hosts’ third pitcher, made it a 7-4 cushion.
It wound up being the game-winner, too, after Bodishbaugh gave up two runs before escaping the ninth inning with runners on the corners. The new closer surrendered two base hits before the second error of the night for third baseman Wally Backman Jr. squandered a possible double play and loaded the bases with nobody out.
Bodishbaugh recorded a strikeout before Kaplan singled home one run and Joe Anthonsen’s groundout plated another. With No. 3 hitter Cesar Nicolas at the plate, Bodishbaugh had a full count on the league’s record holder for runs batted in (102 in 2010 for Grand Prairie) before coaxing a game-ending groundout.
Saddled with the loss was Andrew Liebel, a former third-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays who was one of 10 semifinalists for the Roger Clemens Award, presented to college baseball’s top pitcher, in 2008. Liebel, a Long Beach State product who surrendered six runs and eight of Sioux City’s 12 hits, didn’t make it out of the fifth inning.