JOPLIN, Mo. — Jesse Smith lasted just one inning due to an injury but the bullpen was brilliant in answering the bell as the Saltdogs (15-27) topped the Joplin Blasters (25-15) 5-3 in front of 1,081 fans at Joe Becker Stadium Sunday evening.
Smith allowed two runs on the first before departing with a hamstring injury, then four Lincoln relievers combined to throw eight innings of one-run ball, yielding just two hits to avoid the series sweep.
Zac Westcott (1-1) pitched three hitless innings to earn the win. Ryan Fennell followed with three more, allowing one, before Conor Spink pitched a scoreless eighth and Mackenzie King worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save.
The Saltdogs assumed a 3-2 lead in the fourth, on a Curt Smith RBI single and Brian Joynt two-run hit after Matt Forgatch began the inning with a double to deep center.
Forgatch homered in the seventh and Jeremy Hamilton singled in Smith – who slugged a two-out triple – to make it 5-2. Joplin answered with a Jake Taylor long ball to begin the bottom of the seventh.
Lincoln heads to Sioux Falls to begin a four-game series with the Canaries Monday night at 7:05. Radio coverage begins at 6:35 p.m. on KFOR FM 103.3/1240 AM.
The Saltdogs return home Friday, July 10 with a Fireworks Friday as they host Grand Prairie at 7:05 p.m. July 11 is a Souvenir Saturday featuring an Ameritas Red Saltdogs Jersey Giveaway and a 6:05 p.m. start time. Get your tickets now at www.saltdogs.com.