SIOUX CITY, IA – The Lincoln Saltdogs were limited to just four hits in a 4-2 series finale loss to the Sioux City Explorers on Sunday night.
The victory completed the series sweep for the X’s (51-16) as they won all four games that finished over the weekend. The Saltdogs (31-35) are four games under .500 for the first time since May 26, 2017 when they were 2-6.
James Dykstra shutdown Lincoln by tossing six innings and allowing just two runs on three hits. He walked three batters compared to four strikeouts.
Saltdogs starter Joe Bircher picked up the loss for the loss after lasting five innings and giving up four runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out three.
Lincoln had the first opportunity to score in the first inning. The first two batters of the game reached base to bring up Christian Ibarra. He struck out then Dan Johnson grounded into a double play to end the threat.
Sioux City scored in the bottom half of the inning. Michael Lang, Jay Austin and Nate Samson rattled off three straight singles to tally their first two runs. Two batters later, Jay Baum hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
The Saltdogs started to come back in the third. Ivan Marin drew a walk and Jamey Smart came up with two outs. The rookie continued his strong debut week by driving in Marin with a double to cut the deficit to one run.
They pulled even in the fourth. Randolph Oduber crushed a towering solo homer to make it 2-2. It was his fourth homer as a Saltdogs player and his fifth of the season.
Sioux City recaptured the lead in the next half inning. Dexture McCall doubled to start the inning and moved to third with a bunt. Then, Daniel Jackson belted a double to push across the run.
They grabbed an insurance run in the sixth. Baum drew a walk to end Bircher’s night. Derek Gordon came on in relief and retired the next two batters. Jackson came through again for the X’s, smashing a triple to drive in Baum and make it 4-2. He singled, doubled and tripled in three at bats.
The Saltdogs best chance in the late innings came in the eighth. Marin walked to start the frame and moved to second on a groundout. Smart drew a walk to put two on for Ibarra. Lincoln’s third baseman struck out and Johnson flew out to end the inning.
Lincoln managed just one hit in the final five innings. Eric Karch earned his third save of the weekend by tossing a scoreless ninth.
The Saltdogs don’t play on Monday and start a six-game homestand on Tuesday. First pitch against the Winnipeg Goldeyes is at 6:45 PM with coverage beginning at 6:15 PM on ESPN 101.5 FM 1480 AM and http://www.espn1480.com/lincoln-saltdogs-baseball/.