LINCOLN | Cody Forsythe showed toughness Thursday night.
Sioux City Explorers Manager Steve Montgomery and athletic trainer Brenden Kuhn dashed to the pitcher’s mound after Forsythe took a line drive from Joe Robbins to his leg in the seventh inning.
Forsythe fell to the mound after the ball ricocheted to third base with one out in the seventh. The determined left-hander threw a few warm-up pitches and stayed in the game.
Forsythe picked up his first victory since late June. Later in the seventh inning he and first baseman Daniel Jackson teamed up to pick Robbins off and despite Robbins' 5-for-5 cycle performance, the Explorers prevailed 5-3 during American Association action at Haymarket Park.
Cellar-dwellers with a 38-39 record in the Central Division, Sioux City defeated Central leader Lincoln for the fourth time in as many games this season. Home runs from Joe Bennie and Eudor Garcia in the first and second innings, respectively, were part of a night where the Explorers won, despite being out-hit, 12-7.
Bennie, who entered the game with a .268 batting average, was 3-for-4 while Tyler Ogle added two hits. P.J. Francescon recorded his 15th save of the season against an opponent whose league-best 47-27 record includes a solid 31-11 mark at its home park.
Forsythe (4-7) won for the first time since June 23rd when he defeated Kansas City 12-3. Garcia’s second home run of the season, a two-run shot over the right-field fence, snapped a 1-all tie and gave Forsythe a lead he never lost.
Forsythe pitched a full seven innings for the sixth time this season. His teammates padded their lead to 4-2 in the fifth inning when Jackson drew a leadoff walk and scored on Tanner Vavra’s line-drive single to left field.
Bennie scored on pinch-hitter Jayce Ray’s fielder’s choice in the eighth inning to give the Explorers a 5-2 advantage. It was a key run for the Explorers as Lincoln loaded the bases off reliever Ryan Flores in the bottom of the eighth.
Flores, who pitched a shaky 1 1/3 innings in Tuesday night’s 6-3 win at Cleburne, hit the first batter he faced (Cesar Valera), walked Brandon Jacobs with one out, then and yielded Nathaniel Maggio’s infield single. However, Randolph Oduber lined out to third baseman Garcia and Flores fanned Dashenko Ricardo to end the inning.
One of the reasons Lincoln leads the Central is the fact that it has eight ninth inning rallies this season. Francescon caught a break when former Explorer Matty Johnson grounded into a fielder’s choice that erased Robbins, who had singled with one out.
Robbins had begun his cycle with a first-inning home run and continued it with an RBI triple in the second. He also doubled in the fifth, then had his fourth hit of the game with the infield single off Forsythe.
Francescon allowed consecutive two-out singles to Valera and Curt Smith as the Stars continued their ninth-inning rally. Johnson scored on Smith’s single to right field, but Ray fired a strike to Vavra, who covered second base and tagged out Valera who had taken a big turn attempting to advance on the hit.
Two right-handers will pitch tonight in the second game of the series. Sioux City will send Justin Vernia (1-0) to the mound while Lincoln will counter with Derek Gordon (8-2).