Canaries Lead Off Homestand with 7-6 Win in 12 Innings
The Sioux Falls Canaries waited until the very last minute Tuesday night to salvage an impressive start by pitcher Kyle Vazquez, stealing a 7-6 win from the New Jersey Jackals thanks to a game-winning RBI single from A.J. Kirby-Jones in the bottom of the 12th inning at the Birdcage. The win opens an eight-game homestand on a positive note following a rough road trip that saw the Birds go 1-7 against two clubs.
“We had a couple big hits and guys hustling around,” said Kirby-Jones, who went 4 for 5 at the plate on the night with two walks. “We found a way to pull it out.”
The Canaries took their first lead of the game in the opening inning after a double from Jones drove in right fielder Steve Tinoco. However, New Jersey responded an inning-and-a-half later with a four-run third that set the tone for the majority of the game. Vazquez had little trouble to start the inning, breezing through the first two batters before the Jackals rallied for four straight scores.
A hit batsman started the blitzkrieg, with a walk to Alonzo Harris the very next at-bat putting men at first and second. The already precarious situation only worsened minutes later as the baserunners advanced to second and third thanks to a throwing error followed by a stolen base from Harris. Jackal DH Jorge Cortes jumped on the opportunity the very next at-bat, scoring both runners with a two-run single up the middle. New Jersey’s 2-1 lead leaped to 4-1 when second baseman Jeremy Barnes drove in two more with a deep triple to center field. The rough inning was the lone blemish on Vazquez's night, as he struck out nine in six innings while permitting three earned runs on the evening.
Jones clawed the Canaries within 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth with a single up the middle that punched in Stephen Branca and Kevin Dultz. The Jackals would match the Birds step-for-step until the final half-inning of regulation, taking a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth. An RBI single by Chris Valencia brought Sioux Falls within a run, and Chris Dultz sent both clubs to extras with an RBI single of his own two at-bats later. The 6-6 tie held until Kirby-Jones came to the plate in the 12th with the bases jacked and knocked in Dultz for the game-winning run with a dribbler to right field.
“I wasn’t trying to hit the home run or be the big hero,” said Kirby-Jones. “I was trying to put the barrel on the ball and make good things happen.”
Both teams will return to the Birdcage tomorrow afternoon for a matinee at 12:05 pm. It will be Discovery Learning Center Day Care Day at the ball park and there will be inning-by-inning promotions at the concession stand on the Canaries’ social media sites.