The Sioux City Explorers (35-41) secured the rubber match in the three-game set against the Kansas City Monarchs (47-30) Wednesday night, coming away with a walk off 5-2 win. The Monarchs pitching staff staved off the Explorers’ bats all night until the ninth, with the only Sioux City run for the first eight innings being an unearned one owing to a couple of seventh inning errors.
Monarchs starting pitcher Nick Belzer turned in a gem, going six innings deep, striking out seven, and only allowing four hits. Unfortunately for Belzer and the Monarchs, a late ninth inning rally and a walkoff home run from Ademar Rfiaela would soil it all, causing the Monarchs to drop their eighth game in their last 10.
This one got off to an offensively slow start, thanks to dominant pitching performances from the Monarchs’ Nick Belzer and Sioux City’s Patrick Ledet. Each team would get traffic on base in the first five innings but neither team could crack the opponents pitcher.
In the first inning the Monarchs would get a pair of runners on but a double play ball erased the scoring chance. In the second, the Monarchs bats would begin to come alive with a pair of singles, but an inning-ending double play would kill the momentum once again. In the bottom half, the Explorers would load the bases, but Belzer would K the side, all swinging to keep the game scoreless.
Kevin Santa would lead off the top of the third with a single, but would get thrown out trying for two before the next two batters would be retired in order. Nick Belzer would again give the Explorers some hope, as, after leading the inning off with a strikeout, he would load the bases with a walk and a pair of singles, giving the Explorers a bases-loaded, one out opportunity. However, a well-timed 5-4-3 double play would end the inning, keeping the score tied at zeros.
In the fourth, the only baserunner to reach base would be Zack Kone, who would reach second with a double but then make it to third on an error. Belzer made sure not to let this phase him, however, as he retired the next batter for the third out, stranding Kone at third base.
The fifth would be more of the same, as Blake Tiberi was the only baserunner over the two half-innings, as he would reach base with a walk and later steal second base, but Belzer would retire the next two batters in order with no harm done.
The sixth inning finally brought some life to the scoreboard and to the Monarchs dugout. Kevin Santa would lead the top of the sixth off by reaching base on an error by Explorers second baseman Nate Samson. Jacob Robson would then deliver in the clutch, driving a triple to center field, scoring Santa and giving the game its very first run. David Thompson followed Robson’s triple up with another RBI base knock making the score 2-0 in the sixth. Matt Adams would make it three straight hits with a single of his own, moving Thompson to second before Darnell Sweeney would be walked in the next at-bat, giving Kansas City a bases-loaded, one out situation. As has been the theme of the night to this point, Casey Gillaspie would ground into an untimely double play, ending the top of the inning with the score now 2-0 Monarchs.
In the bottom half, Nick Belzer would continue his shutout performance as he retired the side in order for what would be his last inning of work.
In the seventh, after the Monarchs went down in order, Jordan Martinson would take over on the mound for Kansas City. Zack Kone would lead off the inning by reaching base due to an error for his second time of the night by shortstop Kevin Santa. Martinson’s lefty pickoff move would come in handy, however, as Kone would get caught stealing between first and second for the first out of the inning. However, the Monarchs would get bitten by the error bug again, as an error by right fielder Casey Gillaspie would allow Jack Kelly to reach first. The bug kept biting, and the Monarchs would make it three straight errors as an error by Darnell Sweeney would score Kelly and put the first Explorers run on the board. After Martinson allowed the unearned run, he would then allow a walk before recording a strikeout. A wild pitch on the next batter would put the runners at second and third, so the Monarchs decided to put some faith in Martinson and intentionally walk the bases loaded. Martinson would prove this decision a smart one, as he would end the inning with a ground ball back to himself, making the score 2-1 Monarchs after seven.
Matt Pobereyko would enter on for the Explorers in the eighth and get the job done, retiring the one, two, and three holes for the Monarchs in 1-2-3 fashion. Brandon Koch would spell Jordan Martinson for the Monarchs in the bottom half and promptly return the favor, retiring the side in order with two strikeouts.
Sioux City Explorers closing pitcher Thomas McIlraith would enter in a non-save situation in the top of the ninth and set the Monarchs down in order. The Monarchs would also bring on their closer, Jameson McGrane, in the bottom half of the ninth in a save situation. Gabe Snyder would pinch hit to lead off the inning, but would get sent right back to the dugout when McGrane struck him out swinging. The next two batters would make the inning interesting, however, as the Danny Amaral would poke a single to right field followed by an 0-2 hit by pitch to Blake Tiberi, who represented the winning run. The next batter of the inning Danry Vazquez would step up to the plate and come through for Sioux City, delivering an RBI single to left field, scoring Amaral and tying the game at twos. McGrane would then K Zawada, bringing Ademar Rifaela to the batter’s box with the winning run at second base. Rifaela decided he wanted more than one RBI for the win, and smacked a walkoff home run to right to give the Explorers the 5-2 win for the night and the series.
The Kansas City Monarchs will have an off day before returning to play at home on Friday (8/11) against the Lincoln Saltdogs with the first pitch scheduled for 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 aabaseball.tv.
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.Tickets to all Monarchs games can be purchased by calling 913-328-5618 or by visiting
WP: McIlraith (5-3)
LP: McGrane (2-3)