Behind a terrific start by Tim Brown, excellent defense, and an untimely error by the Pheasants, the Saltdogs edged Sioux Falls 4-3 in the series finale at the Birdcage Thursday night.
With the game tied at 3-3 and two outs in the top of the sixth, Blake Gailen was intentionally walked to load the bases. Pheasants starter Brandon Rapoza then hit Curt Smith to bring in the go-ahead run, as Lincoln capitalized on a Trevor Lawhorn error from earlier in the inning.
Brown allowed all three runs in the first frame, before ultimately settling down into a groove that saw him retire 16 consecutive Sioux Falls hitters. Brown (2-2) pitched seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits whilte striking out three and walking two to earn the win. Rapoza (0-3) went six innings, allowing four runs – three earned – on nine hits to suffer the loss. PJ Zocchi tossed a perfect ninth inning to notch his seventh save.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Brown induced an inning ending ground ball to Smith to end the Sioux Falls threat.
The Saltdogs tied the game in the top of the second inning thanks to four consecutive two-out hits by Kevin Rios, Joe Ramos, Gailen and Smith.
Smith went 1-for-4 with two RBI. Jon Nelson went 2-for-5 with a run-scoring single to open the game’s scoring in the first inning. Gailen and Rios booked two-hit nights as well.
Lincoln travels to Fargo-Moorhead for a three-game series with the Redhawks beginning Friday night at 7:05 p.m. Alex Maestri (1-2) is scheduled to make the start for the Saltdogs.