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Bullpen again secures win for X's

SIOUX CITY | No one is perfect, but the back end of the Sioux City Explorers bullpen hasn’t been far from it in the first 10 days of the American Association baseball schedule.


While the X’s rallied from an early 4-1 deficit Saturday night at chilly Lewis and Clark Park, relievers Cody Satterwhite and Chris Bodishbaugh helped slammed the door on the Sioux Falls Canaries, preserving a 6-4 victory.


For a team improving to 5-4 on the young season, it was the fourth time in five wins that Satterwhite, the setup man, has successfully handed the baton to Bodishbaugh, the closer, to preserve a late-inning advantage.


“I’ve always been someone who’d rather be in a situation like tonight than a blowout game,’’ said Bodishbaugh, who logged his fourth save in as many tries with a 1-2-3 ninth.


Satterwhite, meanwhile, worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh inning and a leadoff double in the eighth to put up two more shutout innings after Jimmer Kennedy, yet another valuable arm thus far, worked a perfect sixth inning.


Satterwhite, a second-round draft pick by the Tigers in 2008, coming out of Ole Miss, has missed more than two full seasons after two shoulder operations -- one to repair his labrum in 2010 and another to clean things up a year ago.


“It’s good to be back on the mound, getting into that routine of throwing every day,’’ said Satterwhite, who has yielded just three hits and no runs in 6.1 innings for Sioux City.


Bodishbaugh, similarly, has five innings with only two hits and no runs allowed for a team that came into the game ranked fourth in the league in batting.


The Explorers didn’t hurt their hitting numbers, either, putting up 11 more hits to reach double digits for the fifth game in a row. The only trouble with the offense thus far has been a shortage of timely hits and a woeful start for veteran Wally Backman, Jr., batting .091 with three hits in 33 at-bats.


Backman actually raised his average 20 points in this one with a drag bunt single in the first inning. However, he was hitless in four subsequent trips, leaving seven runners on base with two strikeouts and a double-play bouncer in his final three turns.


The Explorers were limited to one run after loading the bases with one out in the first inning and fell behind 4-1 as home runs by Tim Pahuta and Nick Van Stratten sent the Canaries in front 4-1 in the top of the third.


In the bottom of the fourth, though, Peter Barrows led off with a double down the left field line, igniting a three-run rally that knotted the score. Palmer Karr got two bases after an errant throw on an infield single let Barrows race home.


Lefthander Mitchell Clegg walked Bryan Pounds before retiring Leugim Barroso on a fly ball. Then, however, the first of three base hits in the game for catcher Alberto Espinosa let Karr cross the plate after rightfielder Anthony Trajano overran the ball.


Brian Bistagne’s bad-hop single was next, driving in the tying run, before Clegg got out of the inning with a fly ball and his first strikeout, retiring Backman.


Clegg made it four strikeouts in a row by mowing down Sam Judah, Barrows and Karr -- the heart of the order -- in the last of the fifth.


Fortunately for the Explorers, Clegg was working on a pitch count, making his first start of the season, and reliever Kyle Vazquez retired only one of the five batters he faced in the sixth inning, walking three.


The X’s once again failed to maximize the opportunity, scoring just once on a wild pitch before Matt Daly, replacing Vazquez, got out of the jam with the double play tapper by Backman.


Still, the one run was the go-ahead run the Sioux City bullpen needed. And, when Bistagne and Eliezer Mesa followed Espinosa’s one-out double in the eighth, the X’s had a much-needed insurance run that made Bodishbaugh’s job that much easier.


“That run in the eighth was huge,’’ said Bodishbaugh. “Everybody did their job, though. Dan (Jurik, the X’s starter) battled (blanking the Canaries in the fourth and fifth after falling behind 4-1). Jimmer got us through the sixth and Cody stopped them in the next two innings.’’


Improving to 4-2 in an I-29 rivalry that has dominated the early Sioux City schedule, the X’s host the series finale at 6:05 tonight, wrapping up a six-game homestand.


Article provided by Terry Hersom, Sioux City Journal