Offense erupts as T-Bones win series vs. Explorers
Kansas City, Kan. In Tuesday's loss to the Sioux City Explorers, the T-Bones' offense fizzled in the late innings. In Wednesday's series finale, however, it came early and often.
Kansas City (32-27) pounded out 17 hits — three of them home runs — in a 12-7 victory at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. The victory secured the series win against the Explorers and capped off a 4-1 homestead.
Sioux City (27-32) struck first with a run off starter Brian Grening in the second inning, but the T-Bones went in front for good with a four-run third. Left fielder Brandon Jones drove in second baseman Justin Bass on a sacrifice fly, designated hitter Lee Cruz launched a two-run home run and right fielder Ray Sadler scored on a throwing error.
Any chance of a comeback was erased when Kansas City added six more in the sixth inning, in which 11 hitters came to the plate. Catcher Pat Trettel hit a three-run homer, Jones drove in two with a double and third baseman Enrique Cruz added an RBI single.
"When you get somebody on base, the pressure is on (the defense)," manager Kenny Hook said. "We can't let them make one good pitch and get out of the inning. The key is to put together three or four good at-bats."
Grening complemented the offensive outburst with a solid performance on the mound. He allowed two earned runs, struck out six and walked just one in 6.1 innings. He picked up the win, improving to 6-3 on the season.
The Explorers managed eight hits off the T-Bone right-hander, but failed to put together any sort of scoring rally until the game was out of reach.
"(Grening) was sharp. He changed speeds very well and moved the ball around," Hook said. "He gave up some hits when he missed his spots, but the nice thing about Grening is, when he does that, he's able to slow the game down and get the next guy."
Sioux City scored one in the seventh, but Jones made it 12-1 with a two-run blast in the bottom half of the inning. It was his third hit of the game and capped off a five-RBI night.
Jones gave the Explorers fits for the duration of the series, going a combined 6-for-10 while driving in nine. His season batting average now sits at .341.
"My main thing as the plate is try to stay relaxed and get a pitch to hit, then put a good swing on it," Jones said.
The Explorers made things more respectable with three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth, but the final outcome was never in question.
With the win, the T-Bones picked up a half game on the Central Division leading Wichita Wingnuts, who didn't play Wednesday. Kansas City is now just three games out of first place.
Hook's squad will return to action at 7:05 p.m Friday when it opens a four-game road series against the Grand Prairie AirHogs. The AirHogs have lost their last seven games, but still own a league-best 37-21 record.
"We've got to go on the road and take some of this momentum with us," Hook said. "They've got a very potent offensive team, but if you play defense and don't give them extra outs, you've got a chance to win."
Score by inning
Sioux City 010 000 132 — 7 14 1
Kansas City 004 006 20X —12 17 0
SIOUX CITY: 2B — B. Newton, P. Barrows, Y. Inoguchi, W. Backman, T. Goodro. 3B — None. HR — P. Barrows, K. Sanchez. RBI — K. Sanchez 2, R. Priddy 2, P. Barrows, W. Backman, T. Goodro. SB — None. E — W. Backman.
KANSAS CITY: 2B — B. Jones, L. Cruz, R. Sadler, E. Cruz, D. Goodwin. 3B — J. Bass. HR — B. Jones, L. Cruz, P. Trettel. RBI — B. Jones 5, P. Trettel 3, L. Cruz 2. SB — None. E — None.
WP — B. Grening (6-3). LP — C. Lukanen (2-1). S — None.