By Terry Hersom
SIOUX CITY – Scoring 28 runs in two games against college teams may have been fun, but the Sioux City Explorers knew the runs would be tougher to come by once they started facing some of their fellow professional clubs.
Indeed, the runs weren’t easily recorded for either team on a cold and breezy Friday night at Lewis and Clark Park, where the X’s rallied in the ninth-inning for a 3-2 exhibition win over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, a former Northern League rival.
T.J. Bohn’s RBI double off the base of the wall in right-center capped a two-run ninth for Sioux City, which mustered just three hits in the contest, all in the final two innings.
“It felt good to square up on a ball just because it was so cold out and you really feel it if you don’t (hit the ball square) in this weather,’’ said Bohn, a veteran outfielder who has reached the major leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners.
On a night when temperatures dipped into the low 40’s and a stiff breeze howled over the left-field wall from the north, the X’s were held hitless for seven innings after one-sided wins over Briar Cliff (10-1) and Mount Marty (18-0) in their two previous preseason starts.
“I’m not worried about the hitting, it was just a rough day, the weather’s tough,’’ said X’s Manager Les Lancaster, whose team will put its 3-0 exhibition mark on the line a 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon at Huron, S.D., facing their I-29 rivals from Sioux Falls.
Weather permitting, it will be the team’s first encounter with an American Association opponent and their last game before heading south to El Paso, where they’ll play an exhibition Tuesday and then open the regular season Thursday night.
Lancaster’s team dodged several early bullets as the RedHawks squandered five hits and two walks in the first four innings against Sioux City starter David Trahan, who wriggled out of three different jams with help from seven strikeouts. Dustin Jones, one of just two holdovers in the X’s lineup, manufactured the game’s first run after drawing a four-pitch walk to lead off the bottom of the seventh.
Jones, fifth in the Association with 32 stolen bases last season, stole second as backup catcher Kole Zimmerman’s throw nailed pitcher J.J. Pacella in the back of the head.
Then, with 30-year-old veteran Casey Hoorelbeke taking over for the wounded Pacella, Jones stole third and then scooted home on a wild pitch by Hoorelbeke, whose 33-year-old brother, Jesse, is the the Hawks’ new slugging first baseman.
Fargo-Moorhead responded with an unearned run in the eighth after loading the bases on Eddy DeLaCruz with help from an infield error. Kevin Clark’s sky-high pop fly was ruled an out on the infield fly rule, but the Hawks’ base runners were in motion and were awarded a tying run after third baseman Jared Keel failed to make the catch, fielding the ball on one hop.
In the ninth, Brett Reid, returning for his third season as the Sioux City closer, surrendered a go-ahead run to the Hawks, yielding a double by Jay Cox and an RBI single by Jesse Hoorelbeke.
However, an infield miscue let Jeff Hughes reach to lead off the home half of the ninth and ultimately led to two runs off Fargo’s sixth pitcher, Donnie Smith.
Stantrel Smith’s infield single and a sacrifice by Jones put runners at second and third before Jon Owings’ infield grounder tied the game 2-2. Then came the slicing liner by Bohn.