LINCOLN, NE – The Sioux City Explorers scored six runs in the top of the second inning and held on to defeat the Lincoln Saltdogs 6-4 in front of 4,762 at Haymarket Park.
The Saltdogs’ (55-34) loss broke a six-game win streak against the X’s (41-50) and tied the series at one win each. The Saltdogs own a four game lead over the Kansas City T-Bones in the Central Division with 10 games left in the season.
It was Husker Legends Night at Haymarket Park. Heisman trophy winners Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier and Eric Crouch plus former head coach Tom Osborne were in attendance and threw out a simultaneous first pitch. Fans that bought a VIP pass participated in a meet and greet with the football legends.
The Saltdogs took inspiration from the legends and started the game well. Joe Robbins singled to start the bottom of the first and Cesar Valera tripled him in. Curt Smith hit a home run in the next at bat to make it 3-0.
But Sioux City answered in a big way in the top of the second inning. Tyler Ogle hit a solo home run off of Saltdogs starter Parker Frazier to start the frame. Then, the next six batters all notched singles to score four more runs. Jayce Ray hit a fielder’s choice later that scored the final run of the inning and make it 6-3. The seven hits tied the season-high allowed by Saltdogs pitching in one inning.
The Saltdogs cut into the X’s lead in the bottom of the second. Brent Dean doubled and went to third base on a single by Robbins. Valera grounded out to send Dean in and make it a two-run deficit.
But the Saltdogs were shut down after the second inning. X’s starter Justin Vernia and reliever Ryan Flores combined to allow just two hits and four base runners over the final seven innings.
Meanwhile, Frazier settled in and didn’t allow another run. J.R. Bunda, Casey Crosby and Brad Orosey combined to throw 4.2 scoreless innings of relief for Lincoln.
Robbins and Smith had multi-hit games for the Saltdogs. Smith is just five hits away from getting his 1,000th hit of his career. Robbins was ejected arguing a strikeout in the fourth inning.
The Saltdogs try to win the rubber match on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is at 2:05 PM with coverage beginning at 1:35 PM on ESPN 1480 and saltdogs.com.
Tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling (402) 474-2255 or visiting Saltdogs.com. For the latest information on the Saltdogs follow the team on Facebook and Twitter/Instagram @saltdogsball.