Two outs stood between a perfect 6-0 road trip for the Kansas City Monarchs (54-32) Sunday afternoon in Lincoln, but a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning capped a wild finish at Haymarket Park, giving the local nine a 6-5 win.
Lincoln (40-47) got off to a fast start in the home half of the first inning with a two-out RBI single from Jason Rogers, scoring two runs off Monarchs starter Nick Belzer to take a 2-0 lead.
The Lincoln Saltdogs sent in the Pitcher of the Month of July Greg Minier, and he delivered. The Monarchs would only muster one run on three hits—one of them was a solo home run off the bat of Jacob Robson in the top of the third inning that cut the early Lincoln lead to 2-1.
The Saltdogs would add another run in the bottom of the third inning on an RBI double from Rogers to take a 3-1. Belzer would toss a quality start (3ER or less in at least 6 IP) the seventh in a row for the Monarchs and the sixth on the road trip. The right-hander would leave after six and would scatter seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts in a no decision. In the seventh, Jeremy Rhoades would enter the game in relief of Belzer. Rhoades retired the first two batters, but Justin Byrd would hit a solo home run to right to make it 4-1 in favor of the “Lincolns”.
The Saltdogs would turn to Matt Cronin in the top of the eighth after Minier left the game. The lefty out of California finished with seven innings, giving up one earned run on three hits with eight punchouts. Cronin would surrender a lead-off double to Pete Kozma and a walk to J.C. Escarra. Kevin Santa would reach on a bunt single that would load the bases for KC. Robson would knock a deep ball to center to wipe the bases clean for the 10th grand slam of the year for the Monarchs, giving the Monarchs a 5-4 lead.
Frank Rubio would work a scoreless eighth, and after a scoreless top of the ninth, at the plate for Kansas City came Brandon Koch in the bottom of the ninth. Koch, working for his third save in three days, would walk the leadoff batter Hunter Clanin. He would then get a fly out from Randy Norris, but pinch hitter Matt Goodheart would single to right to put runners at first and second. Justin Byrd drove a single to right center to score Clanin to tie the game at five.
Jameson McGrane was summoned from the pen and would see Rayder Ascanio reach on a soft grounder to second that Kevin Santa fielded, but his throw to first pulled Casey Gillaspie off the bag to load the bases. With one ball and one strike on Ryan Long, McGrane uncorked a wild pitch that would send Goodheart home from third and end the Monarchs seven-game winning streak.
The Monarchs (54-32) finished the road trip 5-1 and return home tomorrow night (8/22) to face the Winnipeg Goldeyes at 7:00 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 aa baseball.tv.
Tickets to all Monarchs games can be purchased by calling 913-328-5618 or by visiting monarchsbaseball.com. For additional information or interview requests, members of the media may contact the Monarchs Media Relations Department at (817) 739-3693. Stay tuned to monarchsbaseball.com. and the Monarchs Facebook and Twitter pages for updates throughout the season.
WP: Carter Hope (5-2)
LP: Brandon Koch (2-3)
By: Dan Vaughan, Jr.