Both the Kansas City Monarchs (65-35) and the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (64-36) and came to Legends Field Labor Day Monday with plans to take home the American Association West Division title on the final day of the regular season. It was the Monarchs who would take home the regular season’s top reward with a hard fought 8-5 win in game number 100.
With Nick Belzer getting the start on the mound for the Monarchs and Trevor Simms for the RedHawks, both teams had scoreless first innings. It nearly did not stay that way in the top of the second, when Dylan Harris made a leaping grab at the left field bullpen fence to bring the ball back in and rob Alec Olund of a home run.
In the home half of the second inning, JC Escarra started the Monarchs’ offense going with a double, followed by a single by Pete Kozma that carried JC Escarra to third. Dylan Harris followed is highlight reel play with a RBI single to score JC Escarra to give the Monarchs the first lead of the game, 1-0.
Nick Novak singled, starting the RedHawk’s offense in the top of the fifth, advancing to second on a stolen base. Peter Maris followed with a single that scored Novak, putting the RedHawk’s on the board and tying the game, 1-1.
Dylan Harris opened the fifth inning with a triple crushed out to center field. Darnell Sweeney followed with a single, Ryan Grotjohn followed by a huge double off the Price Chopper wall that scored both Harris and Sweeney, making the lead 3-1.
In the top of the sixth, Leo Pena advanced to first on a single, followed by a John Siliviano home run to tie the game at 3-3.
Christian Correa opened the seventh inning by advancing to first on a hit by a pitch by reliever Jordan Martinson, followed by a Peter Maris double. Manuel Boscan advanced to first on an error by Casey Gillaspie, scoring Christian Correa and securing the first lead of the game for Fargo-Moorhead. A base hit by Drew Ward scored Maris, adding to the Fargo lead, 5-3. The Monarchs brought in Brandon Koch to relieve Martinson, and he got out of the inning without any more RedHawks crossing home plate.
The home half of the seventh inning proved explosive for the Monarchs’ offense. Following the seventh inning stretch with Buck O’Neil, Joe Jones took over the on the mound for the “Fargos” as Ryan Grotjohn restarted the offense for the Monarchs with a lead-off walk. Jacob Robson then crushed a towering shot over Home Run Patio to tie the game at 5-5. Jan Hernandez advanced to first base after a hit by a pitch, and both JC Escarra and Dylan Harris earned free passes to first. Mallex Smith also walked, scoring Hernandez and grabbing the lead back for the Monarchs, 6-5. Fargo summoned Tanner Riley into the game. Darnell Sweeney hit a line drive to center, scoring Escarra and Harris and increasing the Monarchs lead to 8-5.
Brandon Koch stayed on the mound for the Monarchs as Alec Olund walked to start the eighth. Rymer Liriano singled to first, followed by a Nick Novak walk that Brandon Koch argued, leading to his ejection from the game. Pitcher Alex Valdez came in to relieve Koch. Valdez struck out Christian Correa and a double play ball ended the RedHawks threat, and the inning ended with an 8-5 lead.
Valdez would work a three up and three down top of the ninth inning to give the Monarchs their 65th win and claim their third straight American Association regular season division title. Kansas City finished the regular season with the league’s best record and a season high 30 games above .500. The Monarchs began August with a 1-5 road trip but rebounded to finish 19-5 over their final 24 games.
The Monarchs will play the first game of the American Association Divisional Playoff series against the Lincoln Saltdogs Wednesday (9/7) at 7:05 p.m at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, Nebraska. The game can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning at 6:35pm and the video stream airing on aa baseball.tv.
The Monarchs are scheduled to play games two and three (if necessary) at home at Legends Field in Kansas City on Friday (9/9) and Saturday (9/10) with the first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Tickets to all Monarchs playoff 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 monarchs baseball.com. and the Monarchs Facebook and Twitter pages for updates throughout the season.
WP: Koch (3-3)
S: Valdez (3)
By: GMW Vaughan