Sioux Falls 1 Carroll 0
SIOUX FALLS, SD – Another home opener and another walk-off for the home team. The Sioux Falls Gold were the latest team in the Pioneer League to send their fans home happy on opening night.
Mitch Gullikson was the hero as his single scored Derek Dahlke for the only run of the game in Sioux Falls’ 1-0 win over the Carroll Merchants.
Dahlke led off the inning with a single and then moving into scoring position after another hit by Lucas Berry. After a ground out by Matt Morgan moved both runners into scoring position, the stage was set for Gullikson’s heroics.
The game winning hit was Gullikson’s second of the night as he finished 2 for 4.
Dahlke and Tiegen Lindner both had two hits as well in the win for the Gold.
On the hill, Joey Cardamon was electrifying as he threw seven scoreless inning, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out six. Ben Moran took over in the eighth and wound up with the win as he finished off the combined shutout.
Connor Forsythe was tagged with the loss as he gave three hits to the five batters he faced in two-thirds of an inning. Patrick Morrow was also sensational on the mound, throwing eight shutout innings, striking out eight and only allowing four hits.
For the Merchants, Nolan Friedrichs went 2 for 4 and Zach Berry notched a double in the loss.
These two teams meet again tonight as the Merchants will look to avenge another walk-off.
Storm Lake 9 Albert Lea 8
In the other home opener on Friday night, the Albert Lea Lakers’ fans had their part spoiled by the Storm Lake Whitecaps and Christian Pena specifically.
Pena’s RBI single in the the top of the ninth was the difference as the Whitecaps came from behind and then held on to win their second game of the year.
It was a back-and-forth affair between these expansion clubs. The Lakers came out swinging as they built a 4-0 lead after two innings.
The Whitecaps started their comeback in the fifth as they took advantage of a Albert Lea error and a free pass, Eze Encarnacion’s single brought home two runs and the ‘Caps would add one more cutting the deficit to 4-3.
After the Lakers got a run in the bottom of the fifth, the Whitecaps had themselves a huge sixth. Anthony Stewart brought home a run with an RBI single, two batters later, Encarnacion reached on an error but that miscue also brought home two runs. Next up was Christian Montero who delivers another hit, that plated Casey Berg and Encarnacion to give Storm Lake an 8-5 lead.
The Lakers fought back in the bottom half of the inning as Freddy Gonzalez’s double scored Jack Hemsath and Evan Kayser to bring the home team within one at the end of six.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Lakers tied the game with a tape-measure home run off the bat of Darek Sargent, his first of the summer, and we would go to the ninth tied at eight.
Montero would lead off the inning with a single and then steal second base to get himself into scoring position. He would advance to third on a ground out by Jason Galleano.
After Blake Bagenstos got Andrew Kasperbauer to ground out. Pena belted out what would be the dagger for the Whitecaps, scoring Montero and giving his team a 9-8 lead.
The Lakers would threaten in the bottom of the ninth, getting the tying run on third and the winning run on second. But Casey Berg would slam the door shut, striking out Jamell Newson and securing the Whitecaps 9-8 victory.
In addition to scoring the game winning run, Montero finished 2 for 5 with a pair of runs batted in. Kasperbauer also went 2 for 5 with a double.
Casey Berg got the win after throwing 3 1/3 innings. He gave up just one run on two hits in relief.
For the Lakers, Gonzalez was the catalyst for that offense, going 3 for 4 with two doubles and 2 RBI. Sargent’s home run was the first of the year for the Lakers and he finished 1 for 3 with two runs scored and 2 walks.
The Lakers are off until Wednesday when they’ll host the Bancroft Bandits, meanwhile the Whitecaps will be taking on the Bandits tonight in Bancroft.