The Kane County Cougars (37-36) late-game offense and home run barrage propelled them to a series-opening victory against the Kansas City Monarchs (46-26). The four Kane County home runs, across the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings helped the Cougars snatch the lead, getting the 8-5 win over the Monarchs.
Runs and hits came at a premium early on Friday night in Kane County. In the top of the first, the Monarchs snagged the first run of the night by capitalizing on a walk drawn by David Thompson. With a two-out RBI double from Matt Adams, Kansas City took an early 1-0 lead. Vance Worley received the start for the Cougars, striking out one, allowing one hit and one run in his first inning of work. In the home half of the first, Nick Belzer made quick work of the Cougars, striking out one and retiring three-of-four batters on his way to his first-of-four hitless innings.
In the second inning, both offenses stayed quiet, as Kansas City went down in one, two, three fashion. Belzer continued his strong outing, mirroring his first inning of work, by retiring three of four with no runs or hits allowed. The Monarchs grabbed another run in the third inning, which was sparked by an early baserunner, Mallex Smith. Smith, playing in his first game for Kansas City, used his MLB speed to advance to third base on a single from Darnell Sweeney. With runners on the corners, Matt Adams picked up his second RBI of the night—this time a single to right field that snuck past the shift. The Monarchs finished the top of the third leading 2-0. Belzer walked another Cougar in the bottom of the third inning but faced only three batters with an inning ending 5-4-3 double play.
The fourth inning followed the script of the game so far, with each pitcher retiring three of four batters and allowing no runs. Belzer’s last inning of hitless work preserved the Monarchs two run lead.
In the fifth inning, the runs began to flow a bit more freely. Worley began the inning by walking Mallex Smith. Smith immediately stole two bases and set up Darnell Sweeney for an RBI sacrifice fly. The Monarchs pushed their lead to 3-0 but were unable to add anymore as Worley retired the next two Monarchs to finish his own hitless inning of work. The Cougars and the walks finally caught up to Nick Belzer in the fifth inning. Belzer began the bottom of the fifth by walking Sherman Johnson and surrendering his first hit of the night to Galli Cribbs Jr. A one-out single quickly erased Belzer’s no-hitter and generated momentum for Kane County. A ground ball to J.C. Escarra advanced both runners into scoring position. Ernie De La Trinidad stepped to the plate and continued his hot hitting with an RBI triple to clear the bases. With the Cougars trailing by one run, Alexis Pantoja brought De La Trinidad home and tied the game up at 3-3. Belzer ended his outing with five innings pitched, three hits and three runs allowed, and five walks.
Kansas City did not waste any time taking the lead back in the sixth inning with a one-out RBI double from Kevin Santa. Santa’s RBI double was set up once again by an early inning walk, as Worley walked Casey Gillaspie. Santa was thrown out on his RBI double while pushing for third base for the triple. Worley held Kane County’s deficit to one run, leaving the score at 4-3 for his final inning of work. Kane County erased the Monarchs lead swiftly with Frank Rubio now on the mound. A leadoff single from Jimmy Kerrigan set Dylan Busby up for a towering two-run home run off the scoreboard to take a 5-4 lead. The Cougars were not done yet as Luke Mangieri blasted a solo home run to push Kane County’s lead to 6-4.
In the top of the seventh, C.J. Carter entered for Kane County, retiring three-out-of-four Monarchs. Carter walked one, allowing no hits or runs to hold the two run Cougar lead. Frank Rubio continued his work in the bottom of the seventh inning. Rubio faced only four Cougars and allowed only one hit, a two-out, solo home run from Cornelius Randolph. With Randolph’s home run, Kane County led 7-4 heading into the eighth inning.
In the eighth inning, Ben Allison entered for C.J. Carter on the mound. Allison loaded the bases with two walks and a double from Casey Gillaspie. With two-outs, the newest Monarch of the night, Jacob Robson, stepped up to the plate for a shot at late game heroics. Robson faced Ryan Richardson from the bullpen with the bases loaded and struck out looking to end the inning. Jeremy Rhoades entered for Frank Rubio and picked up back-to-back strikeouts to begin the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs, Luke Mangieri picked up another solo home run, extending the Cougars lead to four runs. Rhoades walked one before escaping the inning, allowing one hit and one run.
In the final half inning, Ryan Richardson entered to slam the door on Kansas City’s comeback hopes. Richardson retired two Monarchs before surrendering a single to David Thompson and an RBI double from Matt Adams. Kansas City trailed by only three runs, with the tying run on deck, when Richardson retired J.C. Escarra on a 5-3 putout to erase any comeback attempt.
The Monarchs play game two of a three-game series against the Kane County Cougars tomorrow night (8/6) at 6:30 p.m. The game can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning at 6:05 p.m. and the video stream airing on aabaseball.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: Vance Worley (6-7)
LP: Frank Rubio (2-2)
S: Ryan Richardson (5)