ST. PAUL, MN - The Sioux City Explorers advance to the finals in picturesque fashion, winning a nail biter in St. Paul 2-1 with Explorers closer Jose Flores sealing the victory with a called-strike-three for the final out of the semifinals.
Sioux City had a chance to score in the first, back-to-back singles by Rene Tosoni and Brock Kjeldaard put runners in scoring position, and a base on balls by Noah Perio loaded them up with two outs, but a (2-2 pitch) security swing by Ryan Court left the runners stranding with Court popping out in foul territory to end the inning.
Neither team scored a run until the fifth inning. In the fifth, X’s centerfielder Matty Johnson led-off with a double hit to right field to start the inning. Johnson advanced to third off a sacrifice bunt and later scored on an RBI double lined to left field by Rene Tosoni, putting the Explorers on the board first. X’s shortstop Noah Perio ripped a two-out single to right field, scoring Tosoni from second base and extending the lead by two runs.
In the sixth inning, St. Paul answered with a run of their own. Saints second baseman Ryan Cavan reached second on a lead-off ground rule double, moved to third on a groundout to first base, and scored off a Vinny DiFazio base hit, cutting the lead to 2-1.
After clutch outings by X’s pitchers Eric Wordekemeper and Rob Wort, Explorers managed to keep the lead in tact at 2-1 through eight innings.
In the ninth, X’s closer Jose Flores did what he has done all season long, going 1-2-3 with two strikeouts to seal the win for Sioux City and send the Explorers to the American Association Championship Series.
Explorers starter Eric Wordekemper (1-0) received the win, allowing no runs and tying his season high in strikeouts (7) in five innings. St. Paul’s right-hander Robert Coe (0-1) was charged with the loss, going five innings with two runs allowed on seven hits and three walks.
X’s first baseman Rene Tosoni had another three hit night, after going 3 for 4 last night in game three. Tosoni went 3 for 5 with an RBI double and a run scored on the contest. Explorers shortstop Noah Perio knocked in the other run in the game finishing with two hits.
The Explorers will either play the Laredo Lemurs or Wichita Wingnuts in the championship round, beginning on Wednesday. For additional information, please call 712-277-WINS (9467), or email email@example.com.
American Association Championship Series HOME GAMES: Saturday, September 19th (7:05 PM), Sunday, September 20th (5:05 PM), Monday, September 21st (6:05 PM). Games 4 and 5 are if neccessary.