Sioux Falls, SD-- Another fantastic start at the Birdcage from Matt Wickswat went for naught Wednesday night, as the Lincoln Saltdogs stole a 4-3 win in the top of the ninth inning thanks to a game-winning home run from first baseman Ian Gac. Wickswat struck out seven in six impressive innings while only permitting two earned runs for the Canaries (31-64), who were looking to even up the series after falling last night in the opener.
“If you get a start like that it gives you a chance to win the game,” said manager Steve Shirley. “He (Wickswat) threw the ball very well.”
The Saltdogs struck gold on their first scoring opportunity of the game after Gac singled in Matt Forgatch from second base, rewarding Lincoln an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. An RBI groundout by Canaries center fielder Chris Valencia knotted things up at one apiece, with a solo homer from fellow outfielder Brandon Jones pushing the Birds on top 2-1 two innings later.
Lincoln evened the score the very next half-inning thanks to a fielder's choice from Forgatch that allowed Chad Mozingo to reach home plate, the last run the Saltdogs would manage on Wickswat. The tie held until the top of the seventh, when Gac's single to left field threw the Saltdogs back on top 3-2. Steve Tinoco's 40th RBI of the season on a single in the bottom of the inning tied the seesaw affair up yet again at a field goal each.
The Saltdogs waited until the top of the ninth to grab the lead for good, clinching the contest and the series with a solo home run from Gac off of closer Alan DeRatt. Sioux Falls tried to produce a comeback in the bottom of the inning by getting men on 1st and 2nd with two outs, but Lincoln closer Marshall Schuler would get Kevin Dultz out to seal the save.
“Their guy got a pitch that he could drive and he hit it out of the ballpark,” said Shirley. “That was the difference in the game.”
The Sioux Falls Canaries will play their final game at the Birdcage tomorrow when they wrap their series against the Saltdogs at 7:05 pm. It will be Fan Appreciate Night at the ballpark, and fans can get 2 for 1 admission when they wear Canaries apparel to the Birdcage.