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Takes Eleven Innings But X’s Grind Out Win


Lincoln, NE - It wasn’t the prettiest of the twelve straight victories but it still counted as a victory as the 2019 Explorers are currently in the midst of the second longest winning streak in franchise history as they beat the Lincoln Saltdogs 4-3 in extra innings. 

Lincoln struck first on the scoreboard as the first two men to the plate singled to begin the bottom of the first. After a ground out the red hot Curt Smith brought home two runs with a base hit to center field to give Lincoln a 2-0 lead. The Saltdogs then collected a couple of singles to load the bases with one out but Eric Karch would be able to escape the inning with a shallow fly ball to left and a ground out. 

Neither team found the scoreboard again until the fifth. Sioux City was able to get a run after Dexture McCall walked to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a ground ball and scored on a base hit from Sebastian Zawada to make it 2-1. 

The single by Zawada was the first hit of the night for the Explorers. Between the end of the first game of the series and the first innings of game two, Lincoln combined for eight and a third innings of no hit baseball. 

The Saltdogs would get the run back however, a pair of walks began the bottom of the fifth and a base hit to left field by Josh Mazzola made it a two run game again. 

Sioux City tied the game in the top of the sixth thanks to some two out magic. Jeremy Hazelbaker and Justin Felix drew back to back walks which knocked Lincoln starter Ricky Knapp out of the game. Drew Stankiewicz then singled to center field to score Hazelbaker and McCall followed with a consecutive single to score Felix tying the game 3-3. 

Both starters received no decisions. Eric Karch lasted five and two-thirds for the X’s allowing three runs on seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Most of the damage done against Karch occurred in the first inning. 

Knapp also went five and two-thirds, allowing three runs on only one hit but walking five and striking out two. 

From that point on it was a bullpen game as both were up to the task. Tyler Fallwell did most of the heavy lifting for Sioux City, tossing three scoreless innings allowing only one hit, two walks and punching out six. Nate Gercken also added an inning and a third, striking out two. 

Lincoln responded with Austin Pettibone and Austin Boyle who combined to throw three scoreless frames to send the game to extras tied 3-3. 

After both teams going down in order in the tenth, Sioux City was able to scratch out a run in the 11th. Hazelbaker beat out an infield single to lead off the inning. A sacrifice bunt advanced him but back to back walks loaded the bases with one out. Adam Sasser then smoked a hard line drive to second base. Ivan Marin slid to a knee to play the ball on a hop, he made the throw and out to second, but the relay to first to attempt and finish off the inning ending double play was not in time as Sasser was able to beat it out allowing Hazelbaker to score from third and give the Explorers a 4-3 lead.

Matt Pobereyko was able to lock down his 20th save of the season. Stranding the tying run in scoring position by striking out Curt Smith to end the ball game. 

Sioux City will go for the sweep of the Saltdogs and for lucky number 13 in a row on Thursday with first pitch set for 7:05 pm. Taylor Jordan gets the call for the Explorers, and left Spencer Herrmann gets the ball for the Saltdogs in the season finale between the two teams.