By Nolan Brooks
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Kansas City Monarchs are West Division Champions and are moving on to the Miles Wolff Cup Finals.
A Kansas City Monarchs comeback led by walks, wild pitches, balk calls, and a Jan Hernandez RBI double led to a 9-6 win over the Sioux City Explorers at Legends Field Thursday night.
“It’s great. The guys, they played so hard,” Monarchs manager Joe Calfapietra said. “There was no give up in the dugout. This is a great ball club that we played; we knew we were going to have to play down to the end.”
“I’m so proud of these guys.”
💦🍾 Wait until the end…
"They played so hard. There was no give up in the dugout."
Hear from Joe Calfapietra after we made the Finals! pic.twitter.com/9ootRn8xuM
— Kansas City Monarchs (@kscitymonarchs) September 15, 2023
The Monarchs erased a 5-0 deficit on their way to the win, matching their largest comeback of the season. Calfapietra’s team worked 11 walks and only five hits. Nine of those walks happened from the fifth inning on.
Kansas City will face the Chicago Dogs in the best-of-five Miles Wolff Cup Finals. Game 1 is scheduled for Saturday in Chicago with Game 2 Sunday (times TBA). The Monarchs will host Game 3 on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. They’ll also host Games 4 and 5 if necessary on Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Explorers started the scoring in the first inning. Right fielder Scott Ota laced an RBI single to make it 1-0 Explorers after one.
Sioux City increased their lead in the third. An error from Monarchs outfielder Jacob Robson made it 2-0. An RBI sacrifice fly from Ota pushed it to 3-0 Explorers in the third.
Daniel Lingua hit an infield single in the top of the fourth and it was 4-0 Sioux City. Wilfredo Gimenez crushed a solo shot in the top of the fifth to make it 5-0 Explorers.
The Monarchs got on the board in the bottom of the fifth. After loading the bases, Jacob Robson scored on a wild pitch to get the Monarchs on the board. Monarchs shortstop LJ Hatch scored on a balk call on Explorers reliever Carlos Diaz to make it 5-2. Hernandez’s double made it 5-3 Sioux City after five innings.
Explorers first baseman John Nogowski blasted a solo shot to push the Sioux City lead to 6-3 in the top of the seventh.
The Monarchs battled back in the bottom of the seventh. After loading the bases again, bases-loaded walks from Hernandez and Micker Adolfo made it 6-5 Explorers. Taylor Snyder smoked an infield single to tie the game 6-6. Hernandez later scored on a wild pitch and it was 7-6 Monarchs after seven.
Hernandez drew another RBI walk in the bottom of the eighth to make it 8-6. Monarchs second baseman Justin Wylie later scored on a wild pitch. It was 9-6 Monarchs heading into the ninth inning.
Five different pitchers came in for Kansas City. Miller Hogan started the game, giving way to Brandon Finnegan in the third inning. Finnegan got through the fifth before handing the baton to Matt Hartman, who handled the sixth and seventh.
After Bubby Rossman tossed a scoreless eighth, Patrick Weigel entered in the ninth to close out the game. Weigel retired all three batters he faced to end the game.
Monarchs reliever Matt Hartman got the win and Explorers reliever Sean Rackoski got the loss.
The Monarchs take on the Chicago Dogs in the Miles Wolff Cup Finals. Game 1 is scheduled for Saturday in Chicago at Impact Field.