LINCOLN, NE – Correlle Prime drove in five runs and the Texas AirHogs beat the Lincoln Saltdogs 6-5 on Monday night at Haymarket Park.
The AirHogs (25-68) win ties the series and sets up a rubber match for Tuesday night. The 6:45 PM game will be Git-R-Done Night at Haymarket Park featuring an appearance from Nebraska comedian Larry the Cable Guy.
Zhang Tao earned his second win against the Saltdogs (46-47) by tossing five innings and allowing just three runs on six hits. Texas relievers Tyler Matzek, Taylor Wright and Carlos Contreras combined to give up two runs over four innings to secure the game.
Lincoln’s Kyle Kinman struggled. The lefty went five innings and gave up six runs on seven hits. He walked three compared to six strikeouts.
Texas manufactured a run in the first inning. Casio Grider poked a single through the left side and promptly stole second base. Then, Prime hit him home with a two-out line drive to left to open the scoring.
The Saltdogs answered in the bottom half. Christian Ibarra homered to start the inning, his 18th blast of the season and seventh to lead off an inning. Two batters later, Randolph Oduber crushed one over the left field wall to make it 2-1.
The lead did not last long. A couple AirHogs drew walks to bring up Prime with two outs in the third inning. The left fielder slapped another RBI to tie the game.
Texas retook the lead in the fifth. Liang Pei singled to start the frame and Javion Randle tripled him home. Then, Greg Golson walked to set up another chance for Prime. The slugger belted a 3-0 pitch over the left field fence to make it 6-2.
The Saltdogs immediately started to chip away at the deficit. Ivan Marin and Brandon Jacobs each singled before Oduber hit in a run in the fifth.
They went to the long ball again in the eighth. Cesar Valera cranked his third home run of the season to tally two runs and make it a one-score game.
Carlos Contreras sent down the Saltdogs in order in the ninth to collect his 14th save.
Saltdogs relievers Shairon Martis, Eric Wooten, Jake Hohensee and J.R. Bunda combined to throw four innings of shutout relief.
The three Saltdogs home runs bring their season total to 107 long balls. They passed the 2005 club for the second most dingers in team history. They trail the 2010 team, which blasted a league-record 128 home runs.
The Saltdogs and AirHogs square off for the final time on Tuesday. First pitch is at 6:45 PM with coverage beginning at 4:35 PM on ESPN 101.5 FM 1480 AM and http://saltdogs.com/stream.