LINCOLN – Brandon Jacobs hit a double to the left field warning track with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Sioux City Explorers 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at Haymarket Park.
The ninth-inning comeback win was the ninth walk-off win of the season for the Lincoln Saltdogs (49-28). It earned them a split of the four-game set with the X’s (39-41). The Saltdogs have not lost a series since July 3-5 at Texas.
The Saltdogs improve their lead in the American Association Central Division to 3.5 games over Kansas City after the T-Bones lost to the Salina Stockade. Lincoln is six games ahead of Gary SouthShore.
Sioux City grabbed the first runs of the game. Joe Bennie doubled and Jayce Ray hit him in in the first inning. After a groundout and a walk, Levon Washington notched a two-out single and put the Explorer’s in front 2-0.
X’s starting pitcher Kramer Sneed started out hot. He allowed just one hit, on a bunt single, in the first four innings. The Saltdogs recorded two hits but couldn’t score in the fifth but they broke through in the sixth. Randolph Oduber launched a solo home run with two outs for the first run. Then, Jacobs got a hit and Dashenko Ricardo blasted a two-run homer to put the Saltdogs ahead 3-2.
Sioux City responded in the top of the seventh. Washington hit a leadoff homer to tie the game.
Saltdogs starter Bennett Parry recovered well after allowing two runs in the first inning. The southpaw lasted seven innings and allowed three runs on five hits while striking out three batters. It was his second start after spending a month on the Inactive List.
The X’s regained the lead in the top of the eighth off of reliever Casey Crosby. The lefty walked two batters to bring up Tyler Ogle. The first baseman knocked in a run with a single to give Sioux City a 4-3 lead.
The Saltdogs threatened in the eighth but couldn’t score. They loaded the bases with no outs before Ryan Flores got a strikeout and a ground out in the next two at bats. Then, closer P.J. Francescon was inserted to face pinch hitter Tommy Mendonca and induced an inning-ending groundout.
Joe Robbins singled to start the rally in the bottom of the ninth. Cesar Valera got a base hit to move him to second base. Next, Curt Smith hit a ground ball that third baseman Eudor Garcia dove and stopped down the foul line. Robbins thought the ball got past him so he rounded third and was tagged out at home. With two outs, Oduber hit a grounder that the shortstop misplayed to keep the game going and load the bases. Then, Jacobs flew his double over the head of the left fielder for the win.
J.R. Bunda earned his team-high ninth win by pitching a perfect top of the ninth inning.
The Saltdogs head to Cleburne to take on the Railroaders on Monday. First pitch is at 7:06 PM with coverage beginning at 6:35 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.