Sioux City Explorers Home

712.277.WINS (9467)

News

Airhogs take game one of series

Article courtesy of The Sioux City Journal

 

SIOUX CITY | For a team trying to snap out of an early season funk, right-hander John Brownell of the Grand Prairie AirHogs certainly wasn’t what the doctor ordered.

 

Brownell, a 28-year-old pitcher who went 11-5 for the suburban Dallas team’s American Association champions last season, hurled a three-hit, complete-game shutout Tuesday night at Lewis and Clark, handing the Sioux City Explorers a 2-0 setback in a brisk, 129-minute matchup.

 

It was the Explorers’ fifth loss in six games since starting the season with a promising 4-1 record. And, Manager Stan Cliburn’s team has managed just 14 runs in that six-game stretch despite hitting four home runs in a 6-5, 11-inning loss Sunday afternoon in St. Paul.

 

“That’s pretty good pitching right there,’’ acknowledged Cliburn. “Ninety-plus miles-an-hour with a big yacker (curveball). That’s a performance you’ve just got to tip your hat to.’’

 

Brownell, an infant when his family left his native Mitchell, S.D., for Omaha, went 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA as a Millard South all-stater in 2001. He sandwiched two seasons at Butler County (Kan.) Community College around a redshirt year at Nebraska before finishing up at Oklahoma.

 

And, with his 29th birthday just a few weeks away, he’s still chasing the dream.

 

“If I keep doing what I did last year and what I’m doing so far this year, I think there’s a shot,’’ he said. “I’m almost 29, but baseball’s not a young man’s sport like some of the others. I talked to the Diamondbacks at the end of last year and they were real interested.’’

 

The Explorers pitching was none too shabby, either, as left-hander Richard Salazar yielded just four hits in seven innings while surrendering two highly unfortunate runs.

 

Salazar was his own worst enemy when he plunked Grand Prairie’s Keanon Simon, the first batter of the game, with a 0-2 pitch.

 

“I thought that first batter kind of leaned into that pitch and I believe Salazar thought the same thing,’’ protested Cliburn.

 

With the infield drawn in, playing for a bunt, the AirHogs’ Bridger Hunt, batting just .147, poked a seeing-eye single through the left side before a five-pitch walk to Trent Lockwood loaded the bases with nobody out.

 

Andres Rodriguez lined out to medium deep left field for a sacrifice fly that opened the scoring. And, even though Salazar got out of the inning with a double play on a comebacker by the dangerous Greg Porter, it was really the only run the Hogs would need.

 

They managed another, though, in the very next inning after Brian Myrow’s deep fly turned around center fielder Brandon Newton, who misplayed the ball into a leadoff double.

 

Two outs later, with Myrow still at second base, Yasutsugu Nishimoto’s shallow fly to left field turned into a scary collision as Sioux City leftfielder Yusuke Inoguchi neglected to call off shortstop Ryan Priddy, backpedaling on the play. Priddy had the ball in his glove when he slammed into Inoguchi, ultimately allowing Nishimoto to get credit for a gift RBI double and the early 2-0 lead that was never to change.

 

“Priddy has a charley horse in his thigh and we’re just fortunate nothing worse happened,’’ said the X’s manager, who lifted Priddy in the top of the third.

 

Brownell, needing only 97 pitches, allowed only a bloop single by Newton in the bottom of the first and a pair of two-base hits that both scooted down the left-field line, one by Mike Murphy in the third inning and the other by Brian Bistagne, filling in for Priddy, in the seventh.

 

Grand Prairie’s league-leading pitching staff will send out another tough customer tonight in converted reliever Nick De Barr, who is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in his first two starts for the Texans. That includes the league’s only previous complete game shutout before Brownell’s gem in this one.

 

De Barr, incidentally, was 4-6 with a 4.18 ERA a year ago while making 38 of his 40 appearances in relief for Fort Worth, now a member of the North American League.

 

The Explorers will counter with left-hander Alain Quijano, who has allowed just two hits and one unearned run in six innings of work, which doesn’t count three shutout innings in the club’s suspended home opener from May 19. Those will officially be added to his numbers when the X’s, leading 5-0 in the bottom of the third inning against Sioux Falls, complete that game here on June