Explorers Power Past Canaries With 8-5 Victory at Birdcage
By Tony Cola
Sioux Falls, SD-- The Sioux Falls Canaries were dogged by timely hitting from the Sioux City Explorers Wednesday evening, falling 8-5 to their I-29 rivals during Bark at the Ballpark Night at the Birdcage. Humans and canines alike watched as the Explorers struck quick for three early runs in the top first inning and set the tone for the rest of the night after falling in 11 innings to the Birds in Tuesday’s game. Sioux City shortstop Tommy Mendonca provided the bulk of the offense at the plate for the Explorers, going 4-4 with 4 RBIs as his team evened the three-game series.
“We put ourselves in the position to do some things, and then we fell a little short of actually doing them,” said manager Steve Shirley. “
Former Minnesota Twin Rene Tosoni initiated the scoring for the Explorers with an RBI double on Canaries starting pitcher Kyle Ruwe, followed three at-bats later by a two-run single off the bat of Mendonca. The three-run lead blossomed to four runs in the top of the third thanks to an RBI double from Sioux City first baseman Blake Kjeldgaard.
Mendonca continued his hot play on the night one inning later, as he led off the top of the fourth with a solo dinger on Ruwe and put the X’s up 5-0. The Explorer offense gave Ruwe fits all night long, as they tagged him for seven earned runs and 12 hits in seven full innings.
Two more runs in the sixth and seventh inning awarded Sioux City a touchdown lead heading to the bottom of the seventh, where the Birds would finally touch the scoreboard. Canaries shortstop Stephen Branca finally snapped the shutout with two-run blast to right field off of Sioux City starting pitcher John Straka.
A RBI single by Brandon Jones later in the inning brought the Canaries within 7-3, but Sioux City would retort in the top of the ninth with a run-scoring fielder’s choice from Tim Colwell. Another Canary rally with two runs in the bottom of the ninth fell just short, as Sioux City reliever Jimmer Kennedy and the rest of the Explorers held on for the 8-5 victory. The Birds will now hit the road to Winnipeg for a four-game series against the division-leading Winnipeg Goldeyes.
“We’re swinging the bats pretty well,” said Shirley. “If we can come out and get a good start, then we have a chance. Hopefully we get a couple of good starts and continue to hit like this.”
Canary fans will have get one last chance to catch home series this year when Sioux Falls returns to the Birdcage on Aug. 26 for a three-game series against the Lincoln Saltdogs. Fans can get 2-for-1 admission when they bring a perishable donation to Feeding South Dakota.