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Kansas City, KS - The Explorers got a dominating outing from James Dykstra in game one of the South Division Series which lead them to a 4-1 series opening victory over the Kansas City T-Bones.


It was a classic playoff pitchers duel between T-Bones starter Tommy Collier and X’s starter James Dykstra. Though the X’s would get to Collier first and early. 


In the top of the first Michael Lang was the first base runner for the X’s with a one out single. He was immediately chased home from first on a double to left center field by the American Association batting champ Nate Samson to make it 1-0 Sioux City. Jose Sermo then hit a a fly ball to deep left center field. Todd Cunningham made an incredible diving catch on the warning track to rob Sermo of extra bases. But Cunningham then threw the ball back towards the infield and he missed his cut off man. Samson already tagging from second saw the ball roll to the middle of the infield and rounded third and was able to score putting the X’s up 2-0. 


James Dykstra was able to carry those 2 runs for a lead all the way through to a post season win for him. Dykstra with a classic clutch post season pitching performance as he went 7 innings, allowed only a single run and just 2 hits, he struck out 2 and walked 2 and only needed 71 pitches to get through his seven innings of work. Dykstra in his seven innings of work picked up 12 outs via the ground ball. Dykstra ended up leaving the game before the eighth started, he would go through his warm up pitches but would leave with an undisclosed injury before the eighth started.


Kansas City scored their lone run of the ball game in the fourth. Dykstra gave up a one out walk to Todd Cunningham he would advance to third on a double by Noah Perio Jr. That was the first hit of the game for the T-Bones. Sioux City played the infield back, willing to sacrifice the run for the out with runners at second and third with just one away. Adrian Nieto would ground out to second base but it allowed Cunningham to score and cut the X’s lead in half 2-1. But Dykstra would get Alay Lago to ground out to end the frame and the threat and keep the X’s on top 2-1 at the end of the fourth. 


The Explorers would add a couple of runs for Dykstra to work with on a pair of solo home runs. First it was Jose Sermo in the sixth who hit one over the right center field fence to make it 3-1 X’s. Sermo hit 22 home runs in the regular season and finished second in the league in dingers. 


Then a more unlikely source produced the instant run in the seventh as it was Blake Schmit who crushed one to left field. Schmit with only two taters in the regular season put the Explorers up 4-1 with his first in the post season. 


All four runs the X’s scored came against T-Bones starter Tommy Collier who was making his third start in 2018 against the Sioux City Explorers. Collier went 8 innings against the X’s and allowed those 4 runs on 7 hits, though he did not walk a batter and fanned 9 during the game. 


In the eighth the X’s pieced together a scoreless inning after Dykstra departed. Patrick Schuster retired the first two of the inning but walked Keith Curcio with two outs. Steve Montgomery then went back to the bullpen and used Parker Markel who struck out the top of the order Ryan Brett looking to end the eighth. 


Eric Karch would pick up the save in the ninth with a little high drama. After retiring the first two batters of the inning Noah Perio would reach on a base hit. The T-Bones had only three hits in the ball game, all three were by Perio. A walk to Nieto brought the tying run of Alay Lago to the plate. He hit a line drive towards right center field, Michael Lang sprinted over and dove, full extension and made an unreal catch to end the ball game robbing Kansas City of a hit. 


Sioux City takes a 1-0 series lead in the best of five South Division Series. Game two will be on Tuesday night with first pitch at 7:05 from Kansas City. Jason Garcia will get the nod for the X’s and he will be opposed by Barrett Astin for the T-Bones. 


There will be a day off on Thursday before game three at Mercy Field at Lewis and Clark Park back in Sioux City at 7:05 on Friday. The X’s will also host games four and five if necessary on Saturday and Sunday. Gates will open two hours early for fans during the three possible games the Explorers will host as there will be live entertainment. The X’s also have a playoff special going on of $1 hot dogs, $1 beer and soda and $1 ice cream sandwiches.