05/13/2019 9:21 AM -
By Dan Vaughan
The T-Bones went to Sioux City with the best-of-five game series tied at one game each. In a best-of-seven game series, it is often said by pundits that the early winner has the upper hand in the series. In a best-of-five, however, the same can be said of the game three winner. The winner of game three would have two chances to close it out—kind of like playing on house money at the casino. The fact KC had won one at home already made the result that Friday even bigger. For Sioux City, they could look at it from the perspective of needing to win two of three so they could move on.
From the booth I could feel and hear the energy. Right next to the visitor’s radio booth was the visiting owner’s suite. They were just behind the window to my right and the wall next to me. I could hear loud and clear the cheering coming from that suite all night, and I’m sure most of western Iowa could hear the cheering as well.
The bunch next door enjoyed themselves when Ryan Brett tied the game at one in the top of the third immediately after Sioux City took the lead in the home half of the second. Brett launched a solo blast to the left off of Justin Vernia that left Mercy Field. The game remained tied until the bottom of the fifth when Sioux City's Luis Durango hit an infield single. Then three back-to-back, two-out walks pushed him home for the go-ahead run and a 2-1 lead.
The T-Bones would not be alone in committing the ultimate baseball sin. KC would use a pair of walks in the top of the sixth, a single, and a wild pitch plus a passed ball to get the game tied at two. Outside of the final out, it got loud when the old baseball killer, the walk, became a T-Bones game-winning weapon.
From the Jamie Dierking game story, he wrote:
“But the top of the seventh is when Kansas City took the lead for good. Kansas City loaded the bases without the ball ever leaving the infield grass. Ryan Brett led off with a single to the shortstop and Mason Davis followed up with a bunt single. Todd Cunningham then bunted and reached base on an error by the second baseman. With no outs, Sioux City reliever Parker Markel walked Noah Perio Jr. to push in a run, then walked Adrian Nieto to bring home yet another run and make it 4-2 KC.”
The T-Bones got an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Noah Perio Jr. reached on an error by the second baseman Jay Baum and moved up on a ground out by Adrian Nieto to first and scored when Alay Lago singled to center. The cheers from the window next door were at a fever pitch with a 5-2 lead over Sioux City.
Again from the game story Jamie Dierking wrote:
“A three-run lead was more than enough to lock in the win for Kansas City as they won 5-2. The bullpen held the Explorers at two, not giving up any runs in the final four innings of the game. Reliever Joe Filomeno got the win for the T-Bones and Cody Winiarski earned a save.”
The second biggest key to the game, besides the T-Bones working six walks and turning that in to offense, was the Winiarski save. Durango would reach on a single to right for Sioux City. The speedy Michael Lang was able to avoid being doubled up on a ground ball to short to force Durango at second. Nate Samson then singled, and the tying run was on deck in eventual league MVP Jose Sermo. The “fasten seat belt” sign was illuminated by now as the pivotal game three came down to this moment.
Winiarski got Sermo out in front on a tailing fast ball that he popped out to right field for out number two.
The noise next door was now close to a fever pitch. The T-Bones needed one more out when slugger Dean Green came up for the Explorers for the tying run in the bottom of the ninth. The 1,000 and change crowd at Lewis and Clark Park were now drowning out the cheering from next door. (It may have been more out of frustration that a small group could make more noise than the home folks?) On a two one pitch, the Wisconsin righty shut the volume button off completely from the home town faithful when he struck out Green swinging to notch a good news Friday with a 5-2 win and 2-1 series lead.
The folks in the stands finally turned around together and faced my direction in order to finally connect a face to the cheering and commotion that rained down from behind them. They saw that it was none other than the voice of Heather Ehlert leading the suite, cheering on the T-Bones to a commanding “walks are killers” win over Sioux City. My ears never felt so good.