AirHogs Even Series with 7-5 Win at Birdcage
By Tony Cola
Sioux Falls, SD-- A stellar start by starting pitcher Ben Moore wasn’t enough for the Sioux Falls Canaries Friday night, as defensive blunders let the Grand Prairie AirHogs even the four-game series with a 7-5 victory at the Birdcage. Moore (4-4) struck out nine men in a 6.2 innings while permitting only two earned runs and six hits from the AirHogs, who captured the win in front of 4,299 fans thanks in part to two errors in the Canary infield.
“We hit the ball well and for the most part Ben (Moore) pitched well,” said manager Steve Shirley. “We just didn’t play very solid defense. You can’t make too many mistakes.”
The AirHogs grabbed the first lead of the game in the opening inning off an RBI putout from first baseman Jason Botts. Sioux Falls issued their retort the very next inning with run-scoring single from Calros Mendez, tying the game up 1-1.
An error in the top of the second put men at 1st and 3rd with one out for the AirHogs, setting up a prime opportunity for a team looking to avenge a shutout from the previous night. Grand Prairie would take advantage of the opening and score two runs on an RBI putout followed a double from Jimmy Mojica that appeared to be lost in the sun. Moore was officially tagged with a misleading six runs on the night, with only two of those earned on the Canaries ace.
“Ben’s the kind of guy where if you can play defense behind him and get some hits, he’s usually going to give you a chance to win,” said Shirley. “It doesn’t happen every night but I thought he threw the ball well tonight.”
The Canaries tried several times to conjure up a rally, the first attempt coming in the bottom of the fifth when they cut the lead to 3-2. A two-run home run from Sam Lind brought the Birds within a run yet again in the sixth following a pair of runs from the AirHogs in the top of the inning that made it 5-2. However, the AirHogs would seal the W with two more runs in the seventh and eighth innings. A.J. Kirby-Jones tried to conjure another rally in the bottom of the ninth with a lead-off solo shot, but the dinger would be the lone blemish for AirHog reliever Dakota Watts as he’d set down the rest of the Canary batters to take the save. The AirHog win also overshadowed a fantastic night from Kirby-Jones, who went 4 for 5 at the plate.
Sioux Falls will head back to the Birdcage tomorrow afternoon for a matinee tilt against the AirHogs at 4:05 pm. It’s Worship Sunday, with Community Worship at the ballpark at 2:05 pm. There will also be a food drive at the game sponsored by Feeding South Dakota.