Canaries Win Wacky Game To Take Series Against Chicago

Posted: 5/20/2018

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Photo courtesy Ry Tupper Photography

Two runs scoring without the ball leaving the infield. Eight straight players coming to the plate -- and striking out. A home run getting called back because the player who hit it failed to touch home plate.

All that and more took place in the series finale between the Chicago Dogs and Sioux Falls Canaries at Sioux Falls Stadium on Sunday - but the Birds got what was most important, a series win.

The Canaries beat the Dogs 4-2, moving to 2-1 on the season and knocking Chicago's record to 1-2.

"It's big," Canaries manager Mike Meyer said. "We want to win series; that's our goal, especially at home."

Canaries starter Dylan Thompson was brilliant through his first six innings of work, facing the minimum and striking out eight.

It was Thompson's first start since 2016 after making the American Association All-Star Game as a reliever last year.

"He had a great year for us last year out of the bullpen, but we thought he would transition really well into the rotation because of [his] sinker," Meyer said.

Thompson relied almost entirely on his hard sinker through Sunday's game. He threw 6.2 innings, giving up two runs on four hits, walking one, hitting one batter and striking out eight. He was credited with the win.

The Dogs had a reliever start Sunday's game as well -- though they didn't plan to at first. Scheduled starter Scott Firth was pulled after his warmup pitches with an injury. Rich Mascheri pitched the first three innings for Chicago.

The Canaries scored first in the contest when Blake Schmit hit a solo home run in the first off Mascheri. It was the Sioux Falls shortstop's first home run of the year.

The Birds struck again in the third when Dan Motl stole third base and scored on an errant throw by Dogs catcher Alex Lugo.

The fourth inning saw an unusual Canaries rally. Chris Grayson started things off with a one-out bunt single. Tyler Wolfe and Aaron Gretz then took walks to load the bases.

After that, Dan Motl was hit by a pitch and Ty Morrison walked. Both plays forced in a run, and the Canaries led 4-0 after four.

In the fifth, it looked like the Birds had gotten one more. With two outs and no one on, Chris Grayson hit a Tyson Perez pitch over the wall in right, and ran around the bases in celebration.

But moments later, the Dogs left the field. Greyson had failed to touch home plate, so the home run didn't count. The game stayed 4-0.

Chicago got one back in the seventh when Treyson Vavra, a former Canary, hit a two-run home run off Thompson to cut the Birds' lead in half.

The Dogs threatened for more in the frame with runners on first and second and two out, but Mike Meyer called on hard-throwing right-hander Kyle Schepel. Schepel got Dogs third baseman Matt Dean to line out to center, ending the inning.

James Jones pitched a perfect ninth for the Canaries, finishing off the series-clinching victory.

Sunday's game was a strikeout-heavy affair; at one point both teams combined to strike out eight straight times over the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Meyer said there are advantages to his team's offensive approach.

"We're going to have a lot of 2-2, 3-2 counts, and when you get into those counts you're going to strike out," Meyer said. "We're built to lean on the opposing pitching staff."

The Birds have a day off Monday before returning to the Birdcage for a three-game series with the Sioux City Explorers. The matchup with their I-29 rivals starts on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Birds fans can get their tickets to the game at the Sioux Falls Stadium box office or by calling 336-6060.