GRAND PRAIRIE, TX – Curt Smith’s two hits produced three runs and the Lincoln Saltdogs beat the Texas AirHogs 4-3 to take game one of the four-game series.
Dimitri Kourtis provided the pitching to make sure Smith’s run production was enough. In his first professional start, the rookie didn’t allow a run in five innings. He gave up just three hits while walking four and striking out three.
The Saltdogs (22-11) jumped on the AirHogs (8-25) right away. Brandon Jacobs singled in the second at bat of the game and Cesar Valera followed with a walk. Then, Smith doubled to clear the bases. Trever Adams followed with another double to score Smith and make it 3-0.
After that, AirHogs starter and former Chicago Cubs reliever James Russell settled in. He retired 13 straight hitters after the Adams double. Russell notched a quality start by going six innings and allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out ten compared to only two walks.
Texas took until the bottom of the seventh inning to get their bats going. Brian Ragira started the inning with a double off of Saltdogs reliever Fabio Martinez. Later, Ryne Willlard walked and Alvaro Rondon came up with runners on second and third with two outs. He singled to left field to score two runs. Then, he stole second base and came in on a Ryan Wagner single to tie the game. Leuris Gomez came on to get the final out of the seventh.
The Saltdogs scored the game-winning run in the eighth inning. Valera walked with one out and stole second base. Smith hit a ground ball through the middle to plate Valera and make it 4-3.
Cameron McVey and Michael Wagner combined to hold Texas scoreless and hold on for the win. Wagner notched his seventh save of the season.
Smith extended his hitting streak to 15 games and Jacobs reached base for the 23rd straight game. The Saltdogs are 4-0 against Texas this season.
The Saltdogs put ace Carlos Pimentel on the mound on Friday as the team aims to take game two from the AirHogs. First pitch is at 7:05 PM with coverage beginning at 6:35 PM on ESPN 1480 and saltdogs.com.
The Saltdogs return home on Tuesday to face the Kansas City T-Bones. 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.