Sioux City, IA-The Explorers used solid relief pitching and timely hitting to shelve a seven-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the first-place RailCats Wednesday night at Lewis & Clark Park.
With the win, Sioux City (26-39) put an end to a four-game home losing streak. It was also the first loss for Gary SouthShore at Lewis & Clark this season. The RailCats opened up the scoring with a two-run second on three consecutive base hits. With one out, Daniel Pulfer singled to center on a hard line-drive. That was followed by a triple to deep center from Drew Martinez that scored the first run. Zac Mitchell then drove in Martinez for a 2-0 lead on a single up the left field line.
The Explorers went scoreless through the first four innings before they drew even in the fifth. After a strikeout, Oscar Mesa singled on the right side of the infield. Michael Lang did the same but on a bunt attempt up the first base line. The X’s cut the lead to 2-1 as Rene Tosoni drove in Mesa with a line drive single to right. Andres Perez then grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice that allowed Lang to sprint home for a 2-2 tie.
Gary (38-26) went on the attack again in the sixth. Craig Maddox led off the inning with a liner into center. The next batter, Cody Bishop, singled to left. Maddox moved first to third as there was a fielding error on the play. Former Explorer Wally Backman gave the RailCats the lead back with a single to left-center that brought home Maddox. Two outs later, Bishop scored for a 4-2 advantage on an RBI single to left from Drew Muren.
In the bottom of the sixth, the first five Sioux City batters managed to reach base. Tim Colwell perfectly grooved a bunt single up the third base chalk line. Amos Ramon followed with a walk. Tom Mendonca was hit by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Todd Jennings whistled a line drive single into left that cut the deficit to 4-3. Oscar Mesa did likewise as Ramon scored to level the game. After a fly-out, Rene Tosoni delivered a two-out sacrifice fly to center that allowed Mendonca to tag from third and score the go-ahead run for a 5-4 lead.
Newly acquired right-hander Alex Caldera made his mound debut for the Explorers. Caldera received a no-decision as he worked five-and-two-thirds and allowed four earned runs on nine hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Rob Wort posted the win in relief. Wort (1-0) pitched two-and-a-third and gave up just one hit with three strikeouts. Gary starter Morgan Coombs, fresh off the disabled list, suffered the loss. Coombs (5-5) lasted five innings and gave up five earned runs on nine hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Chris Bodishbaugh (pictured) yielded a hit in the ninth but induced a game-ending ground out to short for his ninth save of the season.
Four different X’s batters had two-hit nights. Rene Tosoni went 2-for-3 and served up two RBIs. Oscar Mesa, Tim Colwell, and Todd Jennings all had two hits as well. Mesa and Jennings each drove in a run. For the RailCats, Drew Martinez finished 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Cody Bishop and Drew Muren both went 2-for-4. Gary outhit the Explorers 11-10. Each team committed one error and left eight men on base.
Sioux City looks to even up the four-game set with the series finale against Gary SouthShore on Thursday. 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.