Walk-Off Single Spoils Bircher's Gem
PHOTO COURTESY: Dan LeMoal
GRAND PRAIRIE, TX – A walk-off single in the tenth inning spoiled a ten-strikeout gem from starter Joe Bircher as the Sioux Falls Canaries fell 7-6 to the Texas AirHogs on Sunday afternoon.
Bircher threw 102 pitches on the day, retiring 11 straight batters at one point, and looked very good over his seven innings, giving up no runs on only two hits and walking one to go along with his ten strikeouts. He never faced more than four batters in an inning.
Offensively, the Birds were paced by Darwin Perez and Cameron Monger, who each had three hits on the day. Monger and David Bergin each had two RBIs as well on the day.
Bircher and Texas starter Griffin Russell traded zeros through the first three innings, but the Birds cracked scoreboard first in the fourth. Perez led off the inning with the single, then swiped second. Bergin drove in Perez with a booming double for the first run of the day. Monger drove in Bergin, who advanced to third on an Ozney Guillen single, to make it a 2-0 game. Guillen, with heads up base running, came in to score as Monger stole second, touching home plate to push the lead to 3-0.
Bircher gave up a leadoff single to start the fourth, but went on to retire the next 11 straight batters.
The Canaries steadily built their lead in the middle innings. David Bergin’s RBI single in the fifth made it a 4-0 game, and Mike Falsetti drove in the fifth run of the day with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Ethan Chapman added the Birds’ sixth run of the day with a RBI triple in the eighth, pushing the Canaries’ lead to six.
The wheels started falling off the bus in the eighth. Dylan Thompson took the mound in relief for Bircher, who gave up a pair of two-out singles to put runners at the corners. Pinch hitter Nick Akins then roped a double into the gap, scoring the Hogs first two runs of the day to bring the score to 6-2.
After the Birds failed to bring in an extra insurance run in the top of the ninth, the Hogs mounted a comeback in the bottom of the ninth against Canaries closer Madison Boer. Back-to-back singles put runners at first and second to start the inning. A fielder’s choice put runners at the corners. Cory Morales hit a ground rule double, scoring Devon Rodriguez from third to cut the lead to three. Juan Sanchez then tied up the game at six with one swing, sending a towering homer over the wall in left.
Boer (2-5, 7.48 ERA) headed back out to the mound in the bottom of the tenth after the Birds failed to score in their half of the tenth. Akins led off the inning with a double. Rodriguez drove in the game-winning run with a sharp, one-out single, giving the AirHogs the 7-6 victory.
The Birds return home on Monday to take on the Laredo Lemurs, the first of five games at home this week. The Canaries will face the Lemurs Monday through Wednesday and their I-29 rival Sioux City Explorers in a home-and-home series this weekend. Contact the Canaries ticket office for information regarding single game or season ticket options by calling 605-336-6060 or visit the website at www.sfcanaries.com for more information.