SIOUX CITY, IOWA (KCAU) – Severe weather put a halt to the season opener for the Sioux City Explorers last night, but take two would have a better outcome Saturday evening as the X’s kicked off their 2023 American Association Baseball slate with a seven-inning doubleheader and 10-1 and 7-0 wins over the Kansas City Monarchs.
Returner Solomon Bates got the start on the mound for the X’s, and the USC product shown bright for the beginning of his first full season in Sioux City. Bates allowed zero runs on two hits while fanning six batters through five innings of work. Francys Peguero then took the reigns on the rubber, striking out four batters while allowing just one run in 1.2 innings.
As for the X’s offense, they went to work right off the bat in the bottom of the first. With runners at the corners, Jake Sanford laced an RBI single to give Sioux City the 1-0 lead. Newcomer Vince Fernandez carried the torch in the second inning with an RBI double to score Wilfredo Gimenez for a 2-0 edge, and it snowballed from there for Sioux City.
The hometown team would plate three runs in the third inning and five runs in the fifth inning towards the 10-1 rout over the Monarchs.
Another returner in Mitchell Verburg would start Game Two of the doubleheader, and much like Bates, he was nails. Verburg collected nine strikeouts and allowed one hit through five innings on the bump. The bullpen then chipped in from there with a scoreless inning from Kent Hasler and Brandon Brosher, sacrificing just one hit in the game.
The game remained scoreless into the bottom of three, until Fernandez’ continued his monster day at the plate with a two-run homerun to put the X’s in front 2-0. Fernandez ended the day going 4-for-7 with 7 RBIs.
After the X’s first big fly of the season, Sioux City would scratch across another run via pass ball in the top of the fourth. Chase Harris would break the game wide open later in the inning, clobbering a three-run homerun into the night sky to extend the X’s lead to 6-0.
An RBI triple by Jack Kelly in the sixth inning would push that that cushion even further, ending the X’s scoring with seven runs off 6 hits towards the 7-0 win.
Sioux City will enter the series finale with Kansas City tomorrow afternoon. First pitch at Lewis and Clark Park set for 4:05 p.m.