SIOUX CITY | For a Sioux City Explorers baseball team wallowing in bad luck, it was just what the doctor ordered.
Rallying twice from three-run deficits Saturday night at Lewis and Clark Park, the X’s collected a much-needed victory over the American Association’s strongest team, winning 7-6 in an 11-inning marathon that marked their first extra-inning contest of the season.
Eliezer Mesa (pictured) sliced a one-out single down the right-field line and pinchrunner Brian Bistagne easily scored from second base in a game that once again showcased Sioux City’s league-leading defense and stellar bullpen corps.
While the defense put up its 18th error-free performance, Jon Plefka, Cody Satterwhite and Chris Bodishbaugh combined for 8 1/3 innings of scoreless relief against a Wichita team that leads the 13-team league in both batting and pitching.
The winning rally started when Daniel Bennett, the fifth Wichita pitcher of the night, hit X’s catcher Adrian Martinez, leading off the bottom of the 11th, with a 2-2 pitch.
With Bistagne pinch running, Anthony Kaskadden dropped down a sacrifice bunt, moving the winning run into scoring position. Then, on a 3-2 pitch, Mesa dropped a game-winning looper into right field for the walk-off triumph.
Sioux City, 15-20, snapped out of a hard-luck three-game losing streak that include losses of 5-3 and 2-0 to Wichita’s Central Division leaders after a 2-1 setback Wednesday night in Lincoln.
Veteran righthander Josh Rainwater, winless since a victory in the X’s season opener, failed to make it out of the third inning after surrendering three runs in the first inning, another in the second and two more in the third.
However, the Explorers found a way to rally back from a pair of three-run deficits.
First, they wiped out a 3-0 Wichita lead with three runs in the home half of the first frame, getting a bases-clearing triple from Yusuke Inoguchi after Wingnuts lefthander Anthony Capra hit one batter and walked two others to load the bases.
Capra, five years out of Wichita State, where he went 16-2 as the ace for back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference champs, surrendered another run in his last of five innings of work. Once again, two walks helped the X’s load the sacks before Inoguchi, the first batter to face reliever Josh Stone, pulled his team within 6-4 on a sacrifice fly for his fourth RBI of the night.
Wichita Manager Kevin Hooper pulled Stone after Sioux City mounted a two-out rally in the seventh with a base hit by Eliezer Mesa and another base on balls. However, the switch to lefthander Nick Walters backfired as the southpaw yielded RBI singles by Bryan Pounds and Luke Murton, letting the X’s knot the score at 6-6.
Then, it turned into a battle of two excellent bullpens.
Kaskadden’s two-out double in the eighth inning gave Sioux City its only baserunner in three innings before the 11th. Meanwhile, three walks and two singles were all the Wingnuts could muster in their final four innings -- two each against Satterwhite, who fanned five of the seven batters he faced, and Bodishbaugh, who was credited with the win.
Jared McDonald reached Bodishbaugh for a leadoff single in the top of the 11th, but the Wingnuts couldn’t capitalize. After an infield pop-up, Jake Kahaulelio was called out on a disputed 3-2 strike that got him tossed from the game.
McDonald, stealing second on the strikeout, took third on a wild pitch before John Rodriguez worked a walk. However, Bodishbaugh got out of the jam, striking out league home run leader C.J. Ziegler.
Wichita, still the league’s winningest team at 23-13, wraps up its four-game series here at 6:05 tonight.
Article courtesy of Terry Hersom of the Sioux City Journal