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Gary, IN - Justin Vernia had his best start of the season for the Explorers as he lead the team to a 5-1 victory over the Gary SouthShore RailCats.


Vernia (3-1) picked up the win and quality start tonight going 7 innings of 1 run ball, allowing only 5 hits, not walking anyone and striking out a season high 9 batters. Vernia picked up four 1-2-3 innings in his seven innings of work. 


The Explorers struck out 12 RailCats tonight making it the thirteenth time this season that they have struck out 10 or more in a game. They have now  struck out 25 RailCats through the first two games of this series. 


The Explorers gave Vernia all the run support he needed in the early innings. They scored twice in the second as Jose Sermo lead off with a double and then scored on a Dexture McCall double making it 1-0. McCall then scored on a Dylan Kelly base knock making it 2-0 X’s. 


In the third Sioux City scored three times. Luis Durango reached on a bunt single but was thrown out at second on Michael Lang’s ground out, Lang reached at first on a fielders choice. Nate Samson then singled with Lang going to first to third on the hit. Samson reached second on a throwing error by the catcher and then Jay Baum brought both of them home with a 2-run double down the left field line to make it 4-0. Baum then scored on a Jose Sermo base hit giving Sioux City the 5-0 lead. 


But that Sermo base hit would be the final hit of the night for Sioux City. As for the last 6.2 innings RailCats pitching no hit the X’s. The Explorers offense did all of their damage in the first 2.1 innings of the ball game collecting all 5 runs on 8 hits in that time against Gary starter Lars Liguori. 


Liguori (1-3) took the loss in the game going 6.1 innings, allowing those 5 runs on 8 hits, walking 1 and striking out 2. Liguori after that Sermo hit, retired the next 11 Explorers he faced, the only man to reach against Liguori after that point was Kelly who reached in the seventh on an error by the third baseman, one of three errors made by the RailCats tonight. The X’s have now had three straight games without committing and error. 


Gary got their single run in the fourth when Randy Santiesteban reached on a base hit followed by a Mitch Glasser double putting runners on second and third. A ground out by Colin Willis scored Santiesteban but that’s all Vernia allowed in the inning. Parker Makel and Geoff Broussard pitched shut out eighth and ninth innings to close out the win. 


The X’s did not steal a base tonight making them now 2-5 when they do not steal a bag in a game. Sioux City guaranteed themselves the series win and a winning record on their seven game road trip against two opponents with winning records. 


The Explorers now 22-7 on the season  will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon against the RailCats with a 2:10 first pitch with Luis Mateo on the mound for Sioux City against the lefty Jeff McKenzie for Gary SouthShore.