ST. PAUL, Minn. | Sioux City pitcher Hobbs Johnson finally was rewarded with a win for his recent run of pitching success, getting the the decision as the Explorers opened a three-game American Association series with an 8-1 win over St. Paul at CHA Field Tuesday.
In his last three starts since a mild hip injury, the former University of North Carolina lefthander had allowed five runs over 16 2/3 innings (2.70 ERA) but lost his only decision in those outings.
Johnson worked 7 1/3 innings in this one and gave up four hits and five walks while striking out four. He left with a 4-0 lead after issuing a one-out walk to Tanner Vavra in the eighth inning and ended up being charged for an earned run when Brady Shoemaker hit a single off Sioux City reliever Todd Eaton to score Vavra.
Johnson will likely have an ache to tend to after the game, taking a liner back off his right shin off the bat of Vavra with one out in the fifth inning. Johnson was able to recover to throw Vavra out at first base and after a brief delay got a pop out to end the frame.
The Explorers got two runs in the third inning to take the lead, capitalizing on a pair of Saint errors and a run-scoring single by Tony Campana.
Sioux City took advantage of further Saint miscues to add two more run to its lead in the sixth inning.
Alex White reached to lead off the sixth on an error on a ground to third. Campana followed by dropping a single to left and White moved up a base on a passed ball on the first pitch to Nate Samson, setting up a sacrifice fly to center by the Sioux City shortstop. Jayce Ray moved Campana up to third base on a hard single into right.
Campana then scored on a nifty diving slide at the plate to avoid the catchers' tag on a fielders choice nubber by new Explorer Briar Fortier, who got his first professional RBI on the play. Fortier later drove in another run in the ninth with an RBI single and ended the evening with two hits.
Fortier, a 6‐6, 250‐pounder, is coming off a big postseason with a Davidson team that beat No. 2 North Carolina twice to win a regional and then lost out on a College World Series trip, dropping a first‐ever super regional appearance at host Texas A&M.
Fortier, who played first base in Tuesday's game, was signed when league batting leader John Nogowski had his contract purchased by the Cardinals.
Samson made it a three RBI night and tacked on some insurance runs with a two-run single in the ninth.
Former Explorer John Straka took the loss on the mound for St. Paul, giving up four runs on five hits and no walks over six innings. Straka, who ranks seventh on the career wins total for the Explorers, winning 20 games in 2014-15, gave up only one of the four runs earned.
St. Paul (25-12) had a five-game winning streak snapped with the loss.
Dylan Kelly had a three-hit evening for Sioux City (21-14), which had 14 as a team.