Lincoln Saltdogs manager Brett Jodie said that the team jokes all the time about giving the fans some entertainment.
But to Haymarket Park’s entertainment Sunday, was the demise of the team as they blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning to Sioux Falls.
Ryan Long delivered though, lining a two-out base hit up the middle to walk it off in the Saltdogs’ 6-5 win over the Canaries to complete the three-game series sweep.
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“It’s just never easy to win, you can be up whatever and it’s never over,” Jodie said after the game. “(Saturday’s 14-4) win was an anomaly. But most of them are like today. They are hard to find.
“It is tough to sweep anybody. I do not care what the name of the team is. It was a hard-fought contest and very excited we came out on top.”
The win was all about taking advantage of the opportunities when they came.
J.R. DiSarcina drew a one-out walk in the ninth, which was just his third of the season, to get on base. He advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch and scored on the Long walk-off.
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The team was 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position, driving in four runs. They advanced runners on three Sioux Falls wild pitches and scored a run on a throwing error.
“That is what you have to do,” Jodie said. “We really needed everyone to step up and do their job today and they did that. It is a sign of a complete team picking each other up.”
Sunday’s game was not short on the entertainment though, and a lot of it came from Justin Byrd.
Byrd, who has been in and out of the lineup with a hamstring injury, hit his fourth homer of the season in the first inning and hit a crucial RBI single before stealing home in the eighth inning to make it a 5-2 ballgame.
“It has been awesome to have (Byrd) back,” Jodie said. “Obviously we missed him and Long. It’s great to have those guys in there and there is a lot more depth in the lineup I feel like right now.”
Despite some poor performances and a bunch of injuries, the team is still on pace to win 60 games this season. Jodie said the all-around and clutch performances in Sunday’s win is another sign of improvement and how good his team is.
“If you have a weakness, they are going to find that, so you really need to be complete,” he said. “We need to pitch a little better at times. All in all, I liked the ABs today. We are getting better with base running. We are at the plate, and we are making pitches when we need to. I’m just happy about it all.”
The Saltdogs have Monday off before returning to Haymarket Park on Tuesday for their first-ever series against Lake Country.
Transaction news: Starting pitcher Buddy Baumann is no longer with the Saltdogs. His contract was transferred to a team in Mexico.
Baumann had a 2.02 earned run average in five starts this season and had 40 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. He set a single-game franchise record with 15 strikeouts against Winnipeg on May 28th.
With their roster spot, the Saltdogs signed catcher Bobby Barnard, a rookie from Illinois-Springfield, where he hit .319 across three seasons. Barnard fills the hole of a backup catcher, a role the team needed after releasing Jacob Olson this past week.