LINCOLN, NE – The Sioux City Explorers scored five runs on six straight two-out hits in the fifth inning and held on to beat the Lincoln Saltdogs 6-5 in front of 5,302 fans at Haymarket Park.
The game started as a pitchers’ duel with Kyle Kinman and Justin Vernia dominating. Each starter surrendered a leadoff hit but neither pitcher gave up another hit until the fifth inning. That is when Kinman hit a wall.
The Saltdogs’ (29-28) southpaw retired 10 straight batters before Daniel Jackson notched a two-out double in the fifth inning. The next five batters recorded hits, including doubles by David Kerian and Jay Austin, to score five runs and take a commanding lead.
Dimitri Kourtis relieved Kinman for the sixth. Dylan Kelly doubled to center field and Randolph Oduber misplayed the ball letting him move to third base. Luis Durango slapped a two-out hit to drive in an unearned run and give Sioux City (42-15) the six-run lead.
The Saltdogs’ bats came alive in the sixth. Vernia, who had faced the minimum through five innings, let the first five batters reach. Christian Ibarra smacked a bases-loaded double to drive in the first three runs. Then, T.J. Bennett doubled to score Ibarra and chase Vernia from the game. Curt Smith collected an RBI single against reliever Ryan Flores to make it a 6-5 game but Lincoln left the bases loaded.
Flores and Sioux City closer Eric Karch combined to retire the final nine batters in order to thwart Lincoln’s comeback attempt.
The Saltdogs are 1-6 against the Explorers and 13-19 against the South Division.
Lincoln tries to even the series on Saturday night. First pitch is at 7:05 PM with coverage beginning at 6:35 PM on ESPN 101.5 FM 1480 AM and saltdogs.com/stream.