LINCOLN, NE – The Lincoln Saltdogs stranded 13 runners and lost 4-1 to the Texas AirHogs in front of 4,954 fans at Haymarket Park.
The Saltdogs (37-41) had racked up 25 runs over the first two games of the series but the offense went dry in game three.
The contest started the same way as the second game. AirHogs (20-58) right fielder Stewart Ijames, who led off Friday’s game with a home run, blasted a homer in the second at bat of the game to make it 1-0.
After two difficult nights for AirHogs starting pitchers, right-hander Zhang Tao was able to avoid the walk. He walked the first batter of the first inning, but did not hand out another free pass until the fifth inning.
Tao had his one blemish in the second inning. T.J. Bennett bombed a solo homer to start the frame. It was his second straight game with a homer and was his fifth long ball in his last nine home games.
Saltdogs starter Kyle Kinman navigated four scoreless innings before giving up a run in the sixth. Dillon Thomas launched a double to start the frame and scored on a hit from Du Xiaoci to break the tie.
The AirHogs added to their lead in the seventh. Kinman retired the first two batters but ran out of gas. Casio Grider notched an infield single and Ijames drew a walk. Reliever Shairon Martis gave up consecutive hits to give Texas some insurance runs to make it 4-1.
The Saltdogs tried to mount a comeback in the bottom of the ninth. Dan Johnson registered a pinch-hit single to start the frame. Two batters later, Brandon Jacobs drew a walk. Then, Randolph Oduber reached on an error to put the tying run on base. AirHogs closer Carlos Contreras buckled down and retired Curt Smith and Bennett to end the game.
The loss snapped the Saltdogs three-game win streak and ended the AirHogs’ nine-game losing skid. The Saltdogs try to win the series on Sunday. First pitch is at 1:05 PM with coverage beginning at 12:35 PM on ESPN 101.5 FM 1480 AM and http://saltdogs.com/stream/.