John Brownell picked up his 1,500th strikeout in independent baseball in his last start Aug. 3 — and Friday he was two innings short of throwing his 2,000th career inning, leading the Lincoln Saltdogs in a 3-0 victory over the Sioux Falls Canaries at Haymarket Park.
“I don't really think about past or future, I just kind of take care of today,” Brownell said. “Some of those milestones I didn't even know about until after the fact, but I just take care of today and try and put my team in a position to win.”
Lincoln moved to 5-0 at Haymarket Park in August with the win in front of 6,124 fans, and begins a season-long nine-game homestand.
“It's huge,” Brownell said. “We have to play our best ball in this last month to give us a chance to get in (the playoffs). If we get hot at the right time, you never know what can happen.”
Lincoln is currently 11 games back of Sioux City for the final playoff spot in the American Association South Division.
Omaha native Brownell went six innings, reaching that mark for the ninth time this season. He allowed seven hits and recorded eight strikeouts.
Sioux Falls picked up three of its seven hits against Brownell (6-4) in the top of the first, but the first-year Saltdog rallied with five of his eight strikeouts in his final three innings, including three in the fifth.
The Saltdogs, historically known for power over the past 19 years, provided enough offense in the middle innings with small ball.
Ivan Marin broke the 0-0 tie with an RBI bunt hit, and Forrestt Allday added a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth.
“(Alex) Boshers was real tough on us tonight, too,” Lincoln manager Bobby Brown said of Sioux Falls' pitcher. “It was nice to win a game with that little ball stuff.”
Christian Ibarra added an RBI with a 10-pitch at-bat in the sixth. Ibarra went 2-for-4 and is on a 13-game hit streak.
“Christian has really been swinging that bat well this last month or so,” Brown said. “He is a big part in what we are doing.”
Lincoln and Sioux Falls play the second game of the three-game series Saturday at 7 p.m.