Sioux City, IA-The Explorers fell behind 9-1 early before a comeback bid came up short in a 9-7 loss to the first-place RailCats Monday night at Lewis & Clark Park.
Sioux City (25-38) is now mired in a six-game losing streak, including three straight home losses. Gary SouthShore plated all nine of its runs between the second and fourth innings. It all started with a three-spot in the second, highlighted by a Wally Backman two-run home run to right-center. Drew Muren also posted an RBI single in the inning.
The RailCats (37-25) made it 5-0 with two more in the third. Ryan Babineau smashed a two-run home run of his own to deep left after Zac Mitchell had singled to reach base. The Explorers managed to push a run across in the bottom of the third on three straight singles and an error. Chris Escobar reached on a one-out single to right. Oscar Mesa followed with a grounder up the middle off the glove of the shortstop. Michael Lang (pictured) then laced a line-drive single into center that was bobbled, allowing Escobar to score from second.
SouthShore continued its offensive onslaught in the fourth. Josh Romanski led off the inning with a solo home run to deep right for a 6-1 advantage. With two outs, Daniel Pulfer doubled off the left field wall and Drew Martinez walked. Both men scored for an 8-1 cushion on a double to the right field gap by Zac Mitchell. Ryan Babineau drove in Mitchell on a single to right-center that gave Gary its final run of the night.
Sioux City scratched a run home in the bottom of the fourth. Peter Barrows stroked a double up the left-field line, and was driven in with a two-out base knock to right by Tom Mendonca. The Explorers added two more in the fifth to inch closer. After a fly-out, Oscar Mesa singled to center. Michael Lang drove him in with a double to center. Andres Perez later reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Lang and it was 9-4 Gary.
A three-run seventh for the X’s made it 9-7. With two outs in the inning, Michael Lang tripled to right-center. Rene Tosoni followed with a two-run home run up the right field line that just cleared the wall in fair territory. Andres Perez continued the rally with a walk and then stole second. Peter Barrows reached on an infield single that moved Perez to third. Amos Ramon drove in Perez on a ball hit up the middle that resulted in a fielder’s choice with no out recorded after a force attempt at second. Sioux City loaded the bases in the eighth but to no avail.
On the mound, Stephen Bougher picked up the win for Gary. Bougher (5-4) went five-and-a-third and gave up four earned runs on nine hits with one strikeout and one walk. Patrick Johnson suffered the loss for the Explorers. Johnson (5-3) lasted just three-and-two-thirds and allowed nine earned runs on eleven hits (three home runs) with four strikeouts and three walks. James Parr gave up a hit in the ninth before he earned his fifth save of the season.
At the plate, the two teams combined for 29 hits (nine extra-base hits). Zac Mitchell, Ryan Babineau, and Josh Romanski all collected three hits for the RailCats. Babineau had three RBIs while Mitchell posted two. Michael Lang led the hit parade for the Explorers with a 3-for-4 night, two runs scored, and one RBI. Four other Sioux City batters had two hit games. Gary outhit the X’s 15-14, and each team had one miscue in the field.
Sioux City plays game two of a four-game set against Gary SouthShore on Tuesday. 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.