The Lincoln Saltdogs have found their bark as of late, but it was muzzled Saturday in a 4-1 loss to the Texas AirHogs at Haymarket Park.
After dropping four of their first five contests to begin the month, Lincoln has gone on to win four of their next six including Saturday's loss that snapped three consecutive victories.
“We are playing good baseball right now; playing good defense; pitching good; tonight we just didn't get the hit when we needed it,” Saltdogs manager Bobby Brown said. “Give (Texas) credit, their starter was really, really good and the bullpen guys they brought in did an outstanding job, too.
“They threw four good arms at us; we gave them a run at the end and we just couldn't quite come up with it.”
The Saltdogs loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning with one out, but could not get the big knock they were looking for.
Texas closer Carlos Contreras had some self-inflicted damage, allowing a hit, a walk and allowing Saltdogs batter Randolph Oduber to reach on an error to load the bases, but Contreras' fastball kept Lincoln at bay, topping the radar gun at 100 mph.
Stewart Ijames started Texas off strong for the second straight game, hitting a home run to give Texas a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Ijames also led off the AirHogs' 16-6 loss to Lincoln on Friday with a solo blast.
T.J. Bennett helped Lincoln tie the game in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run, but Texas added a run in the sixth and two in the seventh for the three-run lead.
Though the Saltdogs took a loss Saturday, Brown noted the team is not going to go down without a fight. Lincoln trails Sioux City by 20½ games in the American Association South Division, but the fight for second place and a playoff spot is still up for grabs, with Lincoln trailing Kansas City by 13 games with with 22 games remaining.
“We are playing good baseball right now and all we can do is be where our feet are,” Brown said. “Play one game at a time and (Sunday) have a chance to win this series.”
Though Lincoln is done with the Explorers for the season, Lincoln's remaining schedule plays in its favor, with games against Wichita and Kansas City three more times apiece while playing Texas six times and Chicago three and with a series against Gary SouthShore. Texas and Chicago have the two worst records in the league.
Lincoln looks for their second straight series victory at 1 p.m. Sunday.