Although the Sioux Falls Pheasants wont have a postseason appearance in 2012, their victory on Saturday night still gave fans plenty to celebrate.
The offense went to work early, and Mitchell Clegg threw a complete-game victory to lead the Birds to a 6-2 win and deliver manager Steve Shirley his 300th career win in Sioux Falls. The Pheasants (42-50) won their third straight and clinched the final home series of the year.
Shirley, already the most successful manager in club history, is in his sixth season with a lifetime record of 300-275.
As a manager, I dont throw or hit the baseball, so you have to have good players, Shirley said. Ive been blessed with good players, good coaching and a good support group with the Pheasants front office. It is truly a team effort from the whole way down, and Im proud to be a part of it.
The complete-game win for Clegg (9-5) was the first for a Pheasants pitcher in a nine-inning game this season.
Its one of those things that you want to go out there and continue what you started, Clegg said about the potential of being pulled in the late innings. When it comes to that point, you just have to keep doing what youre doing until they take the ball away from you.
Clegg is 4-0 in five starts in August to bounce back from an up-and-down month of July. He won his third straight victory. Pheasants starters have strung together three straight quality starts and posted six in their last seven games. It has helped Sioux Falls win five of their last six games.
If you look back a month and a half ago when I had two horrible starts, I just had to refocus, Clegg said. If you can attack the hitters, readjust your game and refine what youre doing, then that will give you the upper hand.
The Pheasants offense gave plenty of support to Clegg. They put runners on the corners in the bottom of the first inning, thanks to Cory Morales single and a Sioux City error that allowed Jared Bolden on base. With two outs, Cesar Nicolas double plated both men for an early 2-0 advantage.
The Pheasants added to their lead in the second inning with Al Quintanas RBI single to go ahead 3-0.
Sioux City closed the gap in the fourth inning as Jorge Delgado led off the frame with a solo blast, cutting the lead to 3-1.
However, the Pheasants pushed the margin back to 4-1 in the fifth inning when Reggie Abercrombie blasted a home run to left field, his seventh in 23 games with the Sioux Falls.
Sioux City added one run in the seventh inning, but the Pheasants put the game away in the eighth. Abercrombie singled and stole second base to tie the Sioux Falls team record with his 71st stolen base. Nicolas brought Abercrombie with a double to center field, and Trevor Lawhorns second double of the night two batters later plated Nicolas for the 6-2 lead.
Nicolas led the Pheasants attack, going 2-for-3 with three RBI.
The Xs southpaw Richard Salazar (7-7) took the loss. He tossed 7 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits, walking one and striking out four.
The finale of the three game series with Sioux City is at 5:05 p.m. on Sunday August 26 at Sioux Falls Stadium. It's the last home game of the regular season and the Pheasants want to thank our valued season ticket holders and fans!
Courtesy: Scott Beatty, SF Pheasants