Photo Credit: The Northern Battery
Sioux Falls, SD – Behind a five-run eighth inning rally, the Sioux Falls Canaries topped the Texas AirHogs, 11-7, to split the four-game series against their South Division foe.
For the third-straight game against the Canaries, the AirHogs took the early lead in the top of the first, this time on Casio Grider's solo home run.
Joe Bircher though, settled down after the first, and working around five base runners in second and third innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the third.
The Canaries tied the game at one with three straight singles from their seven, eight and nine hitters – Blake Schmit, Aaron Gretz and Brett Marr – in the bottom of the third, before they took the lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Burt Reynolds led off the inning with a solo home run, his tenth of the season, to give the Canaries a 2-1 lead.
One batter and one out later, Jabari Henry and Tyler Wolfe strung together back-to-back singles before Schmit was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Aaron Gretz followed with a walk to extend the Birds' lead to 3-1 before RHP Kevin Hilton hit his second batter of the inning, Marr, to make it a 4-1 Sioux Falls' lead.
The AirHogs made the call to the bullpen, bringing in RHP Austin Kubitza, but Dan Motl made it a 5-1 ballgame with a sacrifice fly before Kubitza could get out of the inning.
Bircher allowed a run in the top of the fifth but kept the Birds' lead at three heading to the bottom of the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, Sioux Falls extended their lead on Tyler Wolfe's RBI fielder's choice, scoring Reynolds from third.
Bircher would be in-line for the win heading into the seventh, having allowed two runs on six hits, striking out and walking three over six innings of work. But, Bircher took a no-decision with the AirHogs late rally.
James Jones relieved Bircher in the seventh and struck out the leadoff batter, but the next six batters reached base against Jones to cut the Canaries' lead to 6-5. Thompson relieved Jones with the bases loaded, but a bases loaded walk tied the game at six.
And in the top of the eighth, with Thompson back on the hill, the AirHogs took a one-run lead on three singles. Nicco Blank, though, relieved Thompson with one out and got Michael Miller to ground into a double play to keep the deficit at just one.
That double play proved to be huge for the Birds, who rallied against Josh Blanco in the bottom of the eighth. Reynolds led off the inning with a ground-rule double, his fifth hit of the game. Reynolds finished the day 5-for-5 with two doubles, a home run, three runs scored and a RBI.One batter later, Henry launched a two-run shot, his 18th of the season, over the right field wall to help the Canaries retake the lead.
But the Canaries weren't done there, two walks and a single by Schmit against Blanco loaded the bases with two outs for Motl. Motl, the best Canaries hit, by average, with the bases loaded, launched a three-run triple over Trevor Sealey's head in centerfield to extend the lead to 11-7.
Motl finished the day 2-for-4 with his league-leading seventh triple and four RBI, while three other Birds, Gretz, Marr and Henry, each tallied two hits.
Jose Ortega worked around a hit and a walk in the top of the ninth but escaped without allowing a run to give the Canaries an 11-7 victory and a series split against the AirHogs.
Blank picks up the win for the Canaries, who move to 33-39 on the season, while Blanco takes the loss for the AirHogs, who fall to 28-44 on the year.
9,703 came out to see the Canaries take on the Texas AirHogs over the weekend four-game set as the Birds tallied 24 runs over the four games.
The Canaries continue their seven-game homestand with a three-game series against the North Division-leading Winnipeg Goldeyes at Sioux Falls Stadium Monday night at 7:05 PM. RHP Bryce Morrow (1-5, 5.68 ERA) will take the mound for Sioux Falls in game one against Winnipeg.
It'll be a Coca-Cola Monday at the Birdcage against the Goldeyes! Fans will be able to enjoy $1 hot dogs and $1 Coca-Cola fountain beverages all game long!
Be sure to save the date as well for the Birds' three-game homestand against the Salina Stockade August 18-20, as Sunday's matchup has been moved from a 12:05 PM to a 4:05 PM start. For information on single-game tickets, contact the Canaries Ticket Office at (605) 336-6060 or visit sfcanaries.com for more information.