On a cold and blustery Mother’s Day, it was the Sioux City Explorers (3-0) who did the X’s moms proud with walk-off sac-fly winner off the bat of Wilfredo Gimenez to secure the three-game sweep over the Kansas City Monarchs (0-3).
Kansas City struck first in the top of the first, scoring their only run off X’s starter Austin Drury. With the bases loaded, Jan Hernandez hit into a double play to bring in a run and take the 1-0 lead. Drury would work 2.1 innings surrendering two hits with three walks and three strikeouts. The X’s pen was solid all afternoon as Heitor Tokar, Nate Gercken and Sean Rackoski combined to hold KC off the board the rest of the way.
The Explorers flashed some fancy glove work in the win. In the top of the seventh, with Kansas City looking to take the lead with two on and two out, Eury Perez made a spectacular play, leaping into the left field wall to rob Johnesway Fargas of a hit. An inning later a comebacker off the bat of Jacob Robson hit hard off the fielding glove of Rackoski on the mound and rolled toward third where Matt Llyod made a lunging catch and throw to first to get the out.
The Explorers had a chance in the home half of the seventh and eighth inning, getting runners into scoring position, but they could not cash in. In the ninth, that would not be the case as Matt Lloyd would work a lead-off walk off former Big Leaguer Carlos Sanabria (0-1) to put the winning run on base. Jack Kelly would pinch run for Lloyd. Eury Perez put a near perfect bunt down the right side of the infield that Kansas City second baseman Olivier Basabe would field and make a low throw to first, landing by the visitors dugout. The fourth error for the day for Kansas City would move Kelly to third and Perez to second, forcing the Monarchs to walk Kyle Kasser to load the bases. That would set up Wilfredo Gimenez, who hit a deep fly to left in front of the scoreboard to score Kelly for the win.
Sean Rackoski would get the relief win going two innings of hitless work in the win for the X’s. In the three-game sweep the X’s allowed just two runs in 23 innings over the weekend.
Solomon Bates (1-0) tossed hitless ball for four innings and would scatter just two hits over five scoreless innings to pick up his first win of the season in a 10-1 first game. Bates would go on to strike out six with five looking at the third strike.
The X’s took a 1-0 lead in the home half of the first with an RBI single from Jake Sanford off Monarchs starter lefty Jeff Singer (0-1). Vince Fernandez hit a double to left center to make it 2-0 Sioux City in the second inning. In the third inning, Eury Perez upped the score to 3-0 on an RBI ground out then Fernandez would drive in two more runs on an RBI single to right to make it 5-0. Fernandez would add another pair of runs to the tally in the fifth inning on a double for a five RBI game for the Explorers. He would go on to drive in seven runs on the night combined in both games.
Sioux City picked up another five scoreless innings from Mitchell Verburg (1-0) to go along with nine strikeouts in a 7-0 shutout win. The combination of Kent Hasler and Brandon Brosher tossed a scoreless inning each to hold KC to goose eggs on the scoreboard.
The X’s dialed up the long ball in game two with Vince Fernandez hitting a two-run blast to right in the third off Monarchs starter Jalen Miller (0-1) and another three-run bomb to left from Chase Harris in the fourth. Jake Kelly belted a triple to add another run in the sixth inning as the Explorers went to 2-0 on the season.
The series will wrap up Sunday when the two teams will square off at 4:05 p.m. at Mercy Field at Lewis and Clark Park. LHP Austin Drury will take the mound for Sioux City to face LHP Brandon Finnegan for Kansas City.