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Pheasants Walk Off For Win

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SIOUX FALLS- The Sioux Falls Pheasants kept up a season-long pattern of keeping their fans on the edge of their seats on Friday night. 


The largest crowd of the year, 2,633, at Sioux Falls Stadium was rewarded for waiting through the final pitch. A four-pitch walk to Mark Shorey brought home the game-winning run for the Pheasants’ 5-4 walkoff win over the Sioux City Explorers in the opener of a three-game series.


With the Pheasants ahead 4-2 in the eighth inning, Sioux City battled back to even the score. Derek Schermerhorn lead off with a single, and Kent Sakamoto drove him in with an RBI double to cut the deficit to one run. Reliever Brandon Rapoza retired the next two batters before Brett Flowers bounced a game-tying single past infielders Kevin Carby and Joe Anthonsen. 


The Birds’ bats picked up Rapoza in the final frame. Will Richards reached on an error to lead off the ninth and was pushed to second on a sacrifice bunt by Joe Anthonsen. Gus Milner singled and advanced to second on the play to put runners at second and third with just one out. Following an intentional walk to Reggie Abercrombie, reliever Eddie Delacruz (5-7) couldn’t find the strike zone, administering the game-winning free pass to Shorey.  


Aaron Cotter (1-1) pitched a perfect ninth to record the win.


The back-and-forth game was tied at three different times in the game, 1-1, 2-2 and 4-4.


“Like I’ve said before, we don’t have a lot of quit in us,” said manager Steve Shirley. “We’re going to go out there and play, we’re not going to lay down. So, it’s never a surprise to me when we go out and do this.” 


The Pheasants nearly spoiled another masterful outing by starter Ben Moore, who was looking to set a new career high in wins in a season. Moore struck out nine batters and allowed two runs in seven innings pitched.


“[Sioux City] is a totally different since the last time we played them,” said Moore, who has not lost in his last 10 starts. “I was really impressed with them tonight. It was a difficult night for me but the offense and defense picked me up.” 


After setting a club record with 14 strikeouts in his last outing at the Birdcage, the Pheasants’ ace is on the verge of breaking more franchise and league records. Moore’s nine strikeouts brought him to within one of tying his own league record of 126 punchouts in a season set last year.


“The only thing that matters is how we finish,” Moore said. “If we would’ve lost tonight, I would be pretty upset, but we were able to pull it out.”


Francisco Leandro homered and drove in two runs, while Abercrombie reached base in all four plate appearances with three stolen bases. 


The win improves Sioux Falls to 40-44 on the season.


The Pheasants look to keep their playoff hopes alive as they battle the Explorers in game two of the three-game set, starting at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, at Sioux Falls Stadium.


Courtesy: Patrick Coyne, Sioux Falls Pheasants


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