EL PASO, Texas — Things got dicey in the bottom of the ninth inning but the Saltdogs (24-35), thanks to a double-happy offense and a strong outing by Ryan Sheldon, hung on to defeat El Paso Diablos (22-35) 8-7 in front of 4,219 fans at Cohen Stadium Friday night.
Lincoln led 8-4 heading into the bottom of the ninth before Welington Dotel tripled in three runs to cut the ‘Dogs lead to one with one out. Brandon Cooney struck out Jeremy Acey looking for out number two.
Then, with Daniel Nelson at the plate, Cooney’s pitch got by catcher A.J. Miller but somehow Cooney was able to block home plate and tag out Dotel on the assist from Miller to end the game.
Sheldon (5-2) went 6 1/3 innings, allowing just two earned on six hits while striking out six and walking one to earn the victory. Steven Evarts (0-1) allowed four runs on seven hits in four-plus innings, while walking six and striking out one to suffer the loss.
Miller, David Espinosa and Asif Shah each booked three-hit nights. Seven of the 15 Lincoln hits were doubles.
The Saltdogs have not won a game by more than three runs since June 1 at Sioux Falls.
The clubs are back at it Saturday night at 8:05 p.m. for game two of the three-game set. Wade Mackey (4-0, 4.39) is slated to pitch for the ‘Dogs. Radio coverage begins at 7:35 p.m. on KFOR 1240.