Canaries Kick Off Homestand with 4-0 Win over AirHogs
By Tony Cola
Sioux Falls, SD-- The Sioux Falls Canaries started their six-game homestand on the right foot Friday night, as they broke a six-game losing streak with a 4-0 win over the Grand Prairie AirHogs at the Birdcage. A Steve Tinoco three-run home run broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth inning and gave Canaries starting pitcher Joe Bircher (3-5) all the run support he’d require to hold off the AirHogs in front of 4,109 fans. The win is a welcome sight for Sioux Falls (21-33), who returned home after going 1-6 during a rough six-game road trip.
“We struggled a little bit on the road with a lot of close losses,” said Tinoco. “Coming back home and getting this momentum is big for us.”
Neither team could get much established offensively through the first four and a half innings, with the AirHogs getting closest to a scoring chance in the top of the second inning. Bircher faced a precarious bases-loaded situation with no outs but worked out of it thanks to a nifty double play turned by his defense. The Sioux Falls pitcher held things down from the pitching mound Friday night, keeping the AirHogs scoreless on six hits through seven full innings while whiffing two Grand Prairie batters. Bircher’s win was his third straight solid start and caps a run that has seen him allow only six earned runs in his last 19 innings pitched.
“He (Bircher) got out of some big jams for us early in the game and he pitched great,” said Tinoco. “He kept us in this game and gave us a chance to win.”
Sioux Falls started their fifth inning rally with a one-out single from Chris Valencia followed by a Kevin Dultz walk two at-bats later. The two men would touch home plate the very next at-bat after Tinoco’s home run barely made it inside the right field foul pole and jumped the Birds out to a 3-0 lead. A two-out RBI double by Chris Duffy provided Canary reliever John Brebbia an insurance run, though it’d be just gravy as he’d have little trouble with the AirHogs through the final two innings of the game.
The Canaries will return to the Birdcage tomorrow night at 6:05 pm for the second game of their three-game series against the AirHogs. It will be Military Appreciation Night at the Birdcage and the Canaries will be giving away bats for the first 500 kids. There will also be tailgating before the game at 4:30 with live music.