Phone: 817.739.3693




May 21, 2023


By: Dan Vaughan Jr. and Austin Thomas




GENEVA, IL – After a Saturday night of zeros on the scoreboard, the sun came up on an offensive afternoon for the Sioux City Explorers (8-1) in a 7-4 win over the Kane County Atomic Pork Chops. The X’s blew open a tight game with a two-run fifth and three-run sixth to help secure a sweep for Sioux City, their second one of the season.

Kane County Cougars—playing as the Atomic Pork Chops on Sunday—took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single from T.J. Bennett off X’s starter Jared Wetherbee (1-0). Sioux City would answer with a solo home run off the bat of Jack Kelly to right field, his first of the season, scoring off Kane County starter Luke Westphal (0-1) to tie the game at one. The “Chops” would threaten in the bottom of the third, loading the bases with two outs. Wetherbee worked around the jam by getting Josh Allen to ground into a force out.

With the game tied 1-1 in the fourth, the X’s broke the tie with a Matt Lloyd RBI double to send home Vince Fernandez. It was a perfect bottom of the inning for Wetherbee to hold the X’s lead into the fifth. The Explorers started to build a bigger lead in the fifth, as Lloyd took a bases loaded walk and Fernandez took home on a wild pitch from reliever CJ Carter. Wetherbee continued to look good, striking out three in the bottom of the inning.

The sixth inning saw the X’s break the game open with a three spot, as Fernandez had a bases-loaded, 2-RBI single and Miguel Sierra sent one home himself with a single. Brandon Brosher relieved Wetherbee in the bottom of the inning and pitched three up, three down to maintain the large lead.

In the seventh inning, the X’s finally went down without a runner reaching base, and while the Atomic Pork Chops loaded the bases with one out, Brosher kept them in check, retiring the next two batters. The X’s loaded the bases once more in the eighth inning but couldn’t get any of them to score. Francys Peguero checked in for the bottom of the eighth, but he loaded the bases, only getting one out. Michael Esposito served as damage control, allowing the Atomic Pork Chops’ second run of the game with a sac fly from Armond Upshaw, but he kept them from scoring more. The X’s went down in order in the ninth and sent Peguero back to the mound to close it out. Peguero had some troubles in the inning, allowing a single to Cornelius Randolph before letting up a home run to Josh Allen, but the lead proved too big, and the X’s held on 7-4.

The Explorers Series notes:

-The X’s three starters combined to go 16 innings and surrendered just three earned runs in the series.

-In going 8-1, Sioux City has won their first three series.

-The Explores tied their franchise mark of wins out of the gate to start the season at 8. The 2017 and 2018 teams went 8-2 in their first 10.

-The three-series winning streak is the longest streak since the X’s won four in a row last year from August 20th to September 1st of 2022/

-Vincent Fernandez now has 11 RBI to lead the team after he knocked in a pair Sunday, May 21, 2023.

-The Explorers and Cougars played in front of 21,575 combined in the three game games in Geneva.

Box Score

The Explorers continue their road swing with the three-game series in Sioux Falls beginning Monday night against the Canaries. Game time is 6:30 at the “Bird Cage”. Sioux City is expected to start Jesus Valles while Sioux Falls will throw RHP Mitchell Walters. The Explorers return home Friday May 26th to host the Lincoln Saltdogs in the first of a three-game series. Tickets for the season can be purchased online at, in person at the Lewis and Clark Park Box Office or by calling 712-277-WINS. You can catch all the X’s action on and on radio at KSCJ 94.9 FM and 1360 AM.