The AirHogs got off to a good start in the contest. Sanchez tagged Lincoln starter Shairon Martis for a 2-RBI single in the top of the 3rd to help establish a 2-0 lead. The hit was the 2nd of 3 for Sanchez, who also reached on a fielder’s choice.
Lincoln tied the contest on a 2-run home run by Kuzdale off AirHogs starter Tyler Harris. The AirHogs re-seized the advantage in the top of the 4th on an RBI base hit by Byrd, who also finished with 3 hits in addition to a walk. Once again Lincoln punched back though. The Saltdogs got a solo homer by Luis Alen to even the score at 4 in the bottom of the 4th.
The dramatic late innings featured missed opportunities and clutch pitching for both teams. Relief man Cody Culp stranded Rene Leveret on 3rd base by striking out Curt Smith in the bottom of the 7th after entering with 2 outs. The AirHogs loaded the bases in the top of the 8th against reliever Clayton Cook, but could not bring across the go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the 9th, Dainer Moreira led off with a base hit vs. Carlos Misell on a soft liner to right. He was sacrificed over, and Kuzdale then became a hero by sending an RBI single to left center to score him.
Misell (1-3) took the loss, while Evan Reed (1-1), who pitched a scoreless top of the 9th, picked up the win. Michael Hur recorded 9 putouts in center field.
The team returns to Grand Prairie July 19th to begin a series vs. Wichita and will return to Amarillo for a series vs. Gary beginning July 28th. Tickets are available for both series. Further information can be obtained on airhogsbaseball.com or by calling 817-343-0729.
The AirHogs (20-31) and the Saltdogs (28-22) battle in Game 2 tomorrow at Haymarket Park. Griffin Russell is expected to start for the AirHogs. First pitch is slated for 6:35 pm.