While not as big of a boom as last night’s ending, Jan Hernandez once again brought late fireworks over the Fourth of July weekend as his late-game heroics propelled the Monarchs (31-16) to a win, defeating the Cleburne Railroaders (15-32) in game one of the away series. The matchup was a back-and-forth dogfight all the way through, with only one inning with no runs scored, but Kansas City came out on top late, 10-9.
The Monarchs struck early in this holiday showdown as Darnell Sweeney led off the game with a walk from Cleburne starter Garrett Alexander; then he would reach second base three pitches later on a fly ball to left field off the bat of Kevin Santa to put a Monarch in scoring position in the first. Third baseman David Thompson would then capitalize on Sweeney’s efforts with an RBI double, giving the Monarchs an early lead. Gaby Guerrero would then step in and smack an RBI single, scoring Thompson and setting the score at 2-0 Monarchs before the turn of the inning. In the bottom half, Monarchs starting pitcher Akeem Bostick would allow the first two Cleburne batters to reach base, but he would then retire the next three without allowing a run, capping the inning off with a four pitch strikeout.
The Monarchs stayed on Alexander in the second, as shortstop Pete Kozma led the inning off with a double before moving to third base, thanks to a single from the next man in the order, Chad De La Guerra. Darnell Sweeney continued his hot streak when he came to the plate and hit a two-RBI double, scoring both Kozma and De La Guerra. The next batter in the order, Kevin Santa, would hit a single to the left that would allow Sweeney time to round the bases and make it home, bringing the score to 5-0 in the second inning. In the home half, the Railroaders began to head down the right track. Bostick allowed a single to each of the first three batters, loading the bases for Nick Shumpert, who promptly became the fourth batter to hit a grand slam off of a Monarchs pitcher this season, cutting the Kansas City lead to one. Bostick would then strike out two of the next four batters, retiring three of them and escaping the inning without any more damage.
In the third, back-to-back one-out walks from Casey Gillaspie and Pete Kozma and a single from Chad De La Guerra would load the bases for Kansas City, but then back-to-back punchouts would leave them that way. In the bottom half, back-to-back singles would put runners at the corners for Cleburne. Hunter Wolfe then bounced into a double play but Hill Alexander would score from third, tying the game at five.
The fourth also proved eventful, as the Monarchs’ half yielded an RBI double from Gaby Guerrero that scored Kevin Santa, giving KC the lead once again, 6-5. In the bottom half, an unorthodox triple to center field from Edwin Arroyo would put him in scoring position, and he would score two pitches later on a wild pitch, tying the game once more. Later in the inning, a walk and a stolen base from Zach Nehrir would put him in scoring position at second base, and Kacy Clemens would capitalize with an RBI single, giving Cleburne their first lead of the game with the score 7-6.
The Monarchs wouldn’t allow the lead to change for long, however, as Chad De La Guerra would lead the top half of the fifth off with a solo home run to knot the score at seven. In the bottom half, Akeem Bostick would call it a night as Justin Donatella would enter at the beginning of the half inning and record the first 1-2-3 inning of the contest, which would be followed by six more straight outs in the sixth.
In the top half of the seventh, a Pete Kozma walk broke the streak of 1-2-3 innings, but the Monarchs were unable to cash in. For the Railroaders, a trio of singles would plate Kacy Clemens and give the Railroaders an 8-7 lead.
In the eighth, the Monarchs would get two on the bases but Cleburne reliever Austin Fairchild would keep them stranded, holding the one run Railroaders lead as the teams headed to the bottom of the eighth. Offensively, the Railroaders’ Edwin Arroyo would draw a leadoff walk, and then steal both second and third. This allowed Chase Simpson’s single to score Arroyo, giving Cleburne a much needed insurance run late, as the Railroaders now held a two-run 9-7 lead.
To begin the ninth inning, Railroaders closer Nick Gardewine would enter in and walk the first two batters he faced, giving Kansas City the go-ahead run at the plate with no outs. After a flyout and a pinch hit strikeout, Darnell Sweeney stepped up and was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Kevin Santa with two away. Santa drew a 3-2 walk to score one and bring none other than Jan Hernandez to the plate, just a day after his electrifying walkoff grand slam. Similarly to the night before, Hernandez drew the count to 3-2 with 2 outs and the bases loaded with himself as the last chance for the Monarchs. Also similarly to the night before, Hernandez delivered. This time, with a two-RBI single that gave the Monarchs a 10-9 lead heading to the bottom of the ninth. In the bottom half, Jameson McGrane came on to slam the door, and after a Hunter Wolfe single, he was helped out by a great play at the warning track by left fielder Darnell Sweeney to save extra bases and a run. The next batter, Jan Hernandez would fittingly catch the final out in center field, sealing the win for the Monarchs in the ninth.
The Monarchs take on the Railroaders again tomorrow (7/4) for game two of the series. The Monarchs look for the series win with the first pitch at 7:06 p.m. and can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning at 6:36 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: Hill (1-0)
LP: Gardewine (3-3)
S: McGrane (7)
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By: ADAM COOK