Solid Pitching Leads Monarchs To Series-Clinching Win

By Cal Friedman

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — First-year pitching coach Justin Shafer laid out his pitching philosophy on Tuesday; getting pitchers to do great at what they’re good at. 

On paper, it’s simple and routine. In action, it’s effective and dynamic.

The Kansas City Monarchs’ bullpen finished off the Kane County Cougars in a 6-2 win on Tuesday night at Legends Field. The duo of Nate Tellier and Zack Leban shoved, giving up just one base runner in the final four innings.

Leban secured his first save at Legends Field as the Monarchs (8-3) secured the series over the Cougars.

“[It felt] good, anything to help everyone win and do a good job,” Leban said. 

Monarchs starter Connor Curlis (1-0) looked comfortable in his new role. The southpaw hurled five innings with four strikeouts.

Curlis continued to impress as his outing went on. The Ohio native gave up just one base hit in the final 11 batters he faced, including two strikeouts in the third inning. 

The bottom of the lineup got it going for the Monarchs. Hayden Jones kept his hot form going, drilling an RBI single to center field to tie the ballgame. Jones is now up to seven RBI this season on just six hits this campaign.

Bryan Aguilar earned his first start at Legends Field and began with a bang. The third baseman tanked a run-scoring double to give KC its first lead in the second inning, 2-1.

Kane County (5-6) was able to tie the game on a Harrison Smith sacrifice fly, but Kansas City hit back immediately. A red-hot Frankie Tostado punished Cougars starter Westin Muir (0-1) with an RBI double to score Travis Swaggerty, making it 3-2 Monarchs.

Tostado finished 1-for-2 with a pair of walks, extending his hitting streak to five games.

Leban entered in the eighth to the tune of a seven-pitch inning, inducing three straight groundouts.

“Just trying to get ahead and let the fielders work and do their job,” Leban said. “Just try to make good pitches”

The Monarchs created breathing room in the eighth to seal another home win. Ross Adolph and Josh Bissonette both contributed RBI hits to help make it a four-run advantage.

The Monarchs’ bullpen has now combined to throw 12 consecutive shutout innings, dating back to Sunday’s series-clinching win over Winnipeg.

“We’re getting to know each other, telling jokes, keeping it pretty light,” Leban said. “[We’re] just trying to roll with some good vibes.”

The Monarchs try to keep the vibes going in their series finale with the Cougars tomorrow at 6:35 p.m. Tickets are available at