CLEBURNE, TEXAS -- Dominant pitching and timely hitting added up to a big win for the Sioux Falls Canaries on Friday night. They knocked off the homestanding Cleburne Railroaders 3-1 to move to 1-1 on the season.
Birds starter Sam Bragg tossed six innings of one-run ball to earn the win. Mike Hart hit a solo home run in the top of the seventh to put Sioux Falls ahead for good.
The win featured the Canaries debut of Ryan Flores, who threw 1.2 perfect innings with three strikeouts to earn his first save of the year.
Bragg's only blemish came in the first inning. Cleburne left fielder Nick Rotola singled to start off the first, and third baseman Chase Simpson drove him in with an RBI double.
Bragg would be dominant after that, retiring the next 13 hitters he faced in order. He'd get into a first-and-second jam in the sixth, but sent down Cleburne's 3-4-5 hitters to finish off his outing.
The Birds offense did plenty to back him up. Trae Santos tied the score at 1 with an RBI single to left in the fourth inning off Cleburne starter Eudis Idrogo. Idrogo allowed one run on five hits in five innings of work, taking the loss.
Hart's homer, a solo shot to right off reliever Martire Garcia, made it 2-1 Canaries. Mitch Glasser followed Hart up with an RBI double a few hitters later, scoring Brett Vertigan.
Kevin Simmons made his Canaries debut in relief of Bragg in the seventh, but ran into trouble when he came back out for the eighth. With two on and one out, manager Mike Meyer called on Flores for a five-out save.
Flores was perfect, striking out Levi Scott and getting Angel Rosa to ground out to end the inning. He came back on and worked a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out Jared Reaves and Kenny Meimerstorf before getting KC Huth to ground out to end the game.
The Canaries and Railroaders square off again Saturday in the third game of their four-game series. Keaton Steele will start for the Birds; Nefi Ogando will take the mound for Cleburne. Fans can tune in to the game on Sioux Falls Sports Radio 98.1 FM and AM 1230 KWSN.