05/24/2012 6:49 AM
Article courtesy of Sioux City Journal
LINCOLN | Defensive struggles continued to be an early season problem for the Sioux City Explorers and they finally cost Manager Stan Cliburn’s team a game here Wednesday at Haymarket Park.
With a Lincoln Public School’s Day crowd of 5,004 on hand for an 11 a.m. matchup, the Central Division-leading X’s rode the strong pitching of veteran lefthander through six innings, grabbing a 2-0 lead.
However, after overcoming third baseman Wally Backman’s fourth error in the season’s first six games, the visiting Explorers weren’t as fortunate when shortstop Ryan Priddy was charged with his second and third misplays of the season, both in a two-run eighth inning that lifted the Lincoln Saltdogs to a 3-2 win.
John Alonso’s solo home run got the Dogs on the board in the seventh inning, pulling the hosts within 2-1.
Then, with Salazar still on the hill to start the eighth, Mike Provencher singled and all hands were safe when hot-hitting Asif Shah’s grounder to Priddy, an anticipated force out at second, produced an error.
One out later, the shortstop’s second error of the inning was tacked on to Leivi Ventura’s base hit, letting the tying run score.
Then, with Eddie De La Cruz taking over for Salazar, Alonso greeted the sidearming veteran with a go-ahead single that wound up spelling the difference.
Sioux City’s Michael Lang touched Lincoln starter Tommy Palica for an inside-the-park home run in the second inning, the second round-tripper of the young season for the rookie from Rutgers University. And, that was the game’s only run until Ray Serrano followed a double by Wally Backman Jr. with an RBI single in the sixth, making it a 2-0 lead.
Serrano, continuing to swing a hot bat, matched Kris Sanchez with two hits each in an eight-hit afternoon for Sioux City, improving their early season batting averages to .423 and .375, respectively.
Palica scattered seven hits over eight complete innings before P.J. Zochi recorded his first save, working around a one-out double by Sanchez by striking out Priddy and retiring Lang on a fly ball to left field.
Still on top in the division at 4-2, the Explorers return to Lewis and Clark Park to complete the two-city, four-game series tonight at 7:05. After a three-game series starting Friday in St. Paul and a day off on Monday, the X’s will open a six-game homestand on Tuesday, facing Grand Prairie for three games (May 29-31) and Fargo-Moorhead for another three (June 1-3).