The Sioux Falls Canaries had plenty of opportunities, but couldn't deliver key hits in a 5-4 loss to the Wichita Wingnuts Friday night in front of 3,022 fans at the Birdcage.
Wichita starter Junior Guerra struggled with his control, walking six Canaries batters in the first three innings and issuing two wild pitches, but the Canaries (5-10) mustered just one run on Jared Clark's RBI groundout in the first inning. Guerra survived through five innings, allowing just three runs, two earned, on four hits. He struck out six.
Cole Armstrong tied the game for Wichita (9-5) on a wind-aided home run in the second. Both teams tallied single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth for a 4-4 tie. J.P. Ramirez hit a clutch, two-out single in the sixth to score Cory Morales and tie the game.
But Wichita took the lead for good in the ninth when Jake Kahaulelio drove in Jared McDonald, who had doubled with one out off Canaries reliever Kirk Clark (0-1). Wingnuts closer Josh Dew gave up a leadoff single to Morales in the ninth but then retired the next three batters to notch his second save.
Ben Moore started for the Canaries and struck out seven while giving up eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He reached a milestone, surpassing 500 strikeouts in a Sioux Falls uniform. He now needs 19 strikeouts to become the all-time strikeout leader in franchise history (Rich Hyde, 519).
Lincoln Holdzkom (1-0) earned his first victory with a scoreless eighth inning of relief.
For Wichita, Jake Kahaulelio went 3-for-5 with two RBI, and Jared McDonald scored two of the Wingnuts' runs.
The Canaries offense was highlighted by John Alonso's long solo home run in the fifth, his second, while Morales added three hits for the Birds.
Game two of the three-game series is 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, June 1 at the Birdcage. The first 500 kids through the gates will receive a Canaries baseball bat, presented by Schoeneman's Lumber. The game will be broadcast on Sioux Falls Sports Radio 1230-AM, 98.1-FM KWSN and www.kwsn.com.