LINCOLN, NE – The Lincoln Saltdogs drew a season-high 10 walks and beat the Texas AirHogs 9-4 in the series opener at Haymarket Park.
The five-run victory marked the first time since July 3rd that the Saltdogs (36-40) beat an opponent by more than four runs.
Joe Bircher earned the win after going six innings and allowing three runs on six hits. It was his second straight quality start and the fourth straight quality start from a Saltdogs pitcher.
The AirHogs (19-57) got on the board first. Jesse Baker singled up the middle to start the third inning and Liang Pei followed with a bunt single. Three batters later, Dillon Thomas lofted a hit to left-center field to score Baker. Thomas beat the throw in to second base for a double and the throw allowed Pei to score.
Lincoln responded in the next half inning. Ivan Marin and Christian Ibarra each worked walks from AirHogs starter Sean Stutzman. Then, Brandon Jacobs blasted a three-run homer to left field to give the ‘Dogs the lead. It was his team-best 15th homer and brought him to a tie for the second most in the league.
Texas kept the offense rolling in the top of the fourth. Greg Golson ripped a ball over the left field wall to tie the game 3-3. It was his first homer with the AirHogs.
The Saltdogs grabbed the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. Stutzman put three baserunners aboard before Jacobs lifted a sacrifice fly to right field. Alex Glenn scored and Marin tagged to third base. Right fielder Stewart Ijames’ throw to third base got by the fielder letting Marin head to home plate. Two batters later, Curt Smith notched an RBI single to make it 6-3.
Lincoln kept going in the sixth. Thomas, the center fielder, dropped a fly out to put Jacobs aboard. Then, reliever Su Guangyao walked three straight hitters to send in a run. T.J. Bennett registered a sac fly RBI to make it 8-3.
The Saltdogs tacked on another run in the eighth. After hits from Randolph Oduber and Cesar Valera, Dashenko Ricardo smacked a two-out single to extend the lead to six runs.
Saltdogs reliever Jose Jose retired all six batters he faced. Righty Cortland Cox gave up a run in the ninth but recorded the final outs to secure the win.
Every Saltdogs batter reached base within the first six innings. Jacobs tied his season-high with four RBIs and Ricardo collected a multi-hit game.
The Saltdogs try to win their third straight on Friday night. First pitch is at 7:06 PM with coverage beginning at 6:35 PM on ESPN 101.5 FM 1480 AM and http://saltdogs.com/stream/.