By JAXSON WEBB
Kansas City Monarchs
FARGO, N.D. — The Kansas City Monarchs (39-21) held on to defeat their division rival Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (40-20) with a 6-4 final score.
Alexis Olmeda propelled the offense with a three-run shot in the sixth, but the RedHawks did not go down without a fight. The Monarchs are now just one game back of the RedHawks for the first place spot in the West Division.
Kansas City has had great success when scoring in the opening frame, and they did just so on Friday night in Fargo. Darnell Sweeney did his part by opening up the game with a leadoff single on the fourth pitch of the game. A passed ball allowed Sweeney to coast into second base. The two hole, Kevin Santa kept things going by singling and driving in Sweeney to get the Monarchs on the board first (1-0). Kansas City now has a record of 19-7 when scoring in the first inning.
The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks did not respond until the bottom of the second inning to make it 2-1. Sam Dexter hit a solo shot for the hometown RedHawks that got the fans on their feet. The home run would be the first of four between the two teams on the night.
After the early runs, both starting pitchers went on to toss three consecutive scoreless frames. In that period from the third through the fifth Lewis Thorpe tossed five of his seven strikeouts. Fargo’s starter Peyton Wigginton sat one batter down on strikes each of the three innings to keep the score at 2-1 in favor of the Monarchs.
The game was flipped after it shifted from a pitchers duel to the Alexis Olmeda show. Olmeda was facing a new arm out of the Redhawks bullpen in the sixth, but that did not phase him as the catcher stepped up to the plate and blasted a three-run home run on a 2-2 count to blow the game open (6-1).
A few moments later the RedHawks kept the long ball show going when Rymer Liriano hit his sixth home run of the season off of Lewis Thorpe (6-2).
The book was closed on Lewis Thorpe’s night in the home half of the seventh inning when he was replaced by LHP Jordan Martinson. Thorpe had a terrific outing and earned himself the quality start by tallying 6IP, 7H, 2R, 2BB, and 7K. The Australian lefty has collected 29 strikeouts in his last four starts.
Jordan Martinson's first inning out of the bullpen did not go as planned, but he limited the damage after being helped out by his first baseman Casey Gillaspie. Gillaspie completed the 8-6-3 putout when he tagged Evan Alexander out in a run down. Two batters later, Leobaldo Pina singled to cut the deficit down to three (6-3). Martinson stayed with it by ending the inning with a huge strikeout against the highly feared John Silviano of the RedHawks.
In the eighth inning Jeremy Rhoades made his season debut for the Monarchs on his first day back with the team. Rhoades was a member of last season's championship team. Rhoades returned to the roster after spending the time playing down in the Mexican league for the Mariachis de Guadalajara.
The RedHawks gave Rhoades a very warm welcome back to the league by sending his third pitch over the outfield wall to tighten the score at 6-4. The home run for Fargo served to be Liriano’s second blast of the game. Rhoades was able to give the defense a double-play ball and then a strikeout to end the threat.
In the final inning the Monarchs went down in order, but the RedHawks got their leadoff runner aboard via walk. The closer Jameson McGrane settled in with a huge strikeout. The next batter would pop-up to David Thompson and bring the tying runner Jordan Garr to the plate with just one out left in the game. McGrane filled up the strike zone with the game on the line, pounding the mitt on the final pitch of the game to clinch the victory for the Monarchs.
The Monarchs are slated to take on the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks in game two of the three-game set tomorrow night at Newman Outdoor Field with the first pitch at 6:00 p.m. The game can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the video stream airing on aabaseball.tv.