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Kansas City, KS - The Sioux City Explorers are the 2018 American Association Southern Division Champions after their 14-5 win over the Kansas City T-Bones.


Sioux City has now won their division three times in the Steve Montgomery era and its the third time in the last four years for the club. They won the Central Division in 2015 and 2016,  and now here in 2018. 


Kansas City actually got off to the fast start in the game after each team traded runs in the first the T-Bones took the lead with a four run rally in the third. Keith Curcio singled to lead off the frame. A base hit by Mason Davis to right field had Curcio thinking to go to third, a throw by Michael Lang bounced into the stands and Curcio scored. Davis was chased home by a Colin Walsh RBI single and Noah Perio Jr. smacked his eighth home run of the season, a two run shot to put Kansas City up 5-1. 


From there though X’s pitching would not allow Kansas City to score the rest of the ball game and allowed only four hits from the fourth to the final out. Justin Vernia was good yet again for Sioux City as he racked up his league leading twelfth win in the game. Vernia (12-1) went 6 innings, allowed 5 runs, 10 hits, 2 strikeouts and did not walk a batter for the fifth time this year. The Explorers are now 18-1 in games that Justin Vernia starts. 


Sioux City trailing 5-1 started the come back in the fifth. Dylan Kelly doubled with one out in the frame and then Daniel Jackson mashed his second home run of the season, both coming against Kansas City to put the X’s within striking distance 5-3. 


In the sixth the Explorers offense exploded. Nate Samson singled to lead things off, Jose Sermo then homered his 19th of the season tied the game 5-5. Dean Green walked, Blake Schmit singled  and Dylan Kelly scored Green with a single to right to give Sioux City a 6-5 lead. Luis Durango came up with two outs and runners at first and third and he delivered a base hit to score Schmit and put the X’s on top 7-5. Nate Samson came up with the bases loaded and two outs and delivered his second hit of the inning and fourth of the game, the third time this season Samson has collected a four hit game. It drove in two runs and the X’s took a 9-5 lead. It was a six run sixth for the X’s. 


The bullpen took over in the seventh and Ryan Horstman was dominant for Sioux City pitching a shut out seventh and eighth innings, getting two double plays to help him in those innings. 


Sioux City would add the cherry on top with a 5-run ninth inning.. Capped off by Michael Lang’s eighth home run of the year to left field a three run shot that put the X’s on top 14-5. With that home run every player in the starting lineup at least reached base and scored a run in the ball game.


Sioux City and Kansas City will play the rubber game of the series on Wednesday with first pitch being at 11:05 in the morning. Adam Bleday going for Kansas City and Luis Mateo on the hill for Sioux City.