Fargo, ND-The Explorers rallied for two runs in the ninth inning but came up short in their series opener with Gary SouthShore 5-3 Monday night at Lewis & Clark Park.
After two scoreless innings to start the night, the RailCats (9-8) took the lead with a two-spot in the third. Cody Bishop led off with a walk and reached second on a single to center by Danny Pulfer. Bishop then stole third and came around to score after the throw from the catcher went up the left-field line. With two outs, Craig Maddox doubled to right-center and scored Pulfer for a 2-0 Gary lead.
Another two-run inning staked the RailCats to a 4-0 cushion. Leading off the fourth, Jeremey Hamilton singled to right. Adam Taylor walked and Zac Mitchell lined out to first. Cody Bishop then hit a ground ball to first and the throw to second hit the runner to load the bases. Hamilton scored on a sacrifice fly to right. The second run of the inning came on a single to center by Drew Martinez.
It was 4-0 through six before Sioux City finally broke through for a run. The Explorers (6-13) led off the bottom of the seventh with a walk of Tom Mendonca. After a fly-out, Rene Tosoni doubled into the right-field corner to score Mendonca. Gary SouthShore plated a single tally in the eighth and led 5-1.
The X’s struck again in the ninth. With one out, Rene Tosoni singled to right on a hard line-drive. Mark Sobolewski followed that with a double up the right-field line. The very next batter, Peter Barrows, punched a single to left and made it 5-3. After a pitching change, Todd Jennings and Michael Lang both struck out to end the game.
On the mound, Morgan Coombs posted the win. Coombs (2-1) worked six-and-two-thirds and allowed just one earned run on four base hits. He struck out three and walked three. For the Explorers, Kohei Tsukada took the loss. Tsukada (1-1) went six innings and gave up four runs (two earned) on five hits with five strikeouts and four walks. Chuck Fontana came on in the ninth and struck out the final two batters to earn his second save of the season.
Michael Lang, Rene Tosoni, and Peter Barrows all had two hits in defeat. Barrows also had two RBIs. For the RailCats, Danny Pulfer and Jeremey Hamilton both went 2-for-4 with a run scored. The Explorers made three errors on the night, and outhit Gary 8-7.
Sioux City plays game two of its four-game series against Gary SouthShore tomorrow night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. For ticket information and promotion specials at Lewis & Clark Park, call 712-277-WINS or visit the Explorers website at www.xsbaseball.com.