GRAND PRAIRIE, TX – Curt Smith was 5-5 and drove in three runs to propel the Lincoln Saltdogs to a series-opening 4-3 win over the Texas AirHogs on Monday night.
Smith’s effort tied the franchise record for hits in a game. He is the 19th Saltdogs (15-9) player to record five hits replacing Joe Robbins as the most recent.
Dimitri Kourtis earned the win for the Saltdogs by throwing 2.1 scoreless innings in relief. Jose Jose earned his second save in the last two games with a perfect ninth inning. Kourtis, Jose and Shairon Martis combined to toss five shutout innings in relief of starter Mikey O’Brien.
Zheng Chaoqun picked up the loss for Texas (4-18). The AirHogs are mainly comprised of the Chinese National Baseball Team (known as the Beijing Shougang Eagles). About two-thirds of the roster is Chinese players training to try to qualify for the Olympics.
The AirHogs opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Correlle Prime and Dillon Thomas jacked back-to-back solo homers to give Texas the two-run lead.
The Saltdogs manufactured a run in the third. Christian Ibarra walked to start the inning and advanced to second base on a groundout. He moved to third on a fly out then scored on a single by Smith to make it 2-1.
Texas added to their lead in the fourth. They notched four straight hits but just scored one run. Lincoln caught Luan Chenchen in a pickle between third and home and Dashenko Ricardo caught Chen Chen trying to steal second base.
The Saltdogs turned to the home run for offense in the fifth. Angel Reyes drew a walk to bring Smith to the plate. The slugger launched a game-tying shot to left field for his sixth home run of the season.
Lincoln broke the stalemate in the seventh. Reyes singled and raced to third on another Smith hit. Then, Reyes scampered home on a wild pitch to score the go-ahead run.
The Saltdogs are 5-0 in one-run games and 7-0 when holding their opponent to three or fewer runs.
The Saltdogs try to earn their third straight win on Tuesday night. First pitch in Grand Prairie is scheduled for 7:05 PM with coverage starting at 6:35 PM on ESPN 101.5 FM 1480 AM.
For more information on the Saltdogs, follow the team on Facebook and Twitter/Instagram @saltdogsball. For ticket information visit https://saltdogs.com/tickets/ or call (402) 474-2255.