The moon waited until the eighth inning Monday night in Fargo to rise above the right field wall in North Dakota. The moon got a great view of a ninth inning pinch hit three run blast off the bat of J.C. Escarra. That home run would give the Kansas City Monarchs (3-0) a 5-2 lead and the eventual final score in game one of the West Division Championship Series over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (2-2).
The headline going into the game at Newman Outdoor Field was the matchup of a pair of ace lefthanders getting the starting nods for both clubs. The pair did not disappoint. The Monarchs Matt Hall tossed 5.1 innings giving up one unearned run on six hits with nine strikeouts in a no decision. The RedHawks Kevin McGovern went seven innings surrendering one earned run on six hits to also not figure in the decision.
“Kay-see” got on the board in the fourth inning loading the bases with one out off of McGovern. Jan Hernandez and Casey Gillaspie both singled with Pete Kozma drawing a walk. Gio Brusa hit a bouncer to third brining home Jan Hernandez as Brusa raced to first, to beat out a double play chance for the “Fargos”. McGovern would get Alexis Olmeda to ground out to first to get out of the inning with Kansas City leading 1-0.
In the home half of the sixth the RedHawks would tie the game up. Leo Pena reached on an error by Darnell Sweeney at third to start the inning. Hall would strikeout John Silviano then walk Manuel Boscan to put runners at first and second. A wild pitch would move Pena to third for the RedHawks. Alec Olund then singled through the five and six hole to tie the game at one. Evan Alexander reached on an infield single that second baseman Ryan Grotjohn was able to make a diving grab on to keep the go ahead run from scoring but load the bases. Brandon Koch would come in the game and get an infield pop out to second from Sam Dexter, then retire Christian Correa on a fly to left to end the inning and leave the way stations full for the RedHawks.
McGovern would exit after the seventh inning stretch and would see his club grab the lead off the Monarchs pen. Jordan Martinson came in for Koch and got a strikeout of Peter Maris for the first out. Drew Ward would work a walk followed by a single from Leo Pena to put runners at first and second. John Silviano would single home the go ahead run for the RedHawks scoring Ward. Martinson induced Manuel Boscan into an inning ending “pitchers best mate” double play, to leave the game at 2-1 in favor of the RedHawks.
Reid Birlingmair was summoned from the Fargo-Moorhead pen. The Monarchs would muster one hit off the righty but would no score in the top of the eighth frame. Brian Glowicki worked a scoreless bottom of the eighth for Kansas City to take the game into the top of the ninth and set up the heroics of the Monarchs.
Birlingmair would retire Jacob Robson on a ground out to second for the first out. The Monarchs then got back-to-back walks from Jan Hernandez and Casey Gillaspie to put runners at first and second with a wild pitch moving Hernandez to second during the Gillaspie at bat. Joe Jones came into the game for the RedHawks to face Pete Kozma. The Monarchs shortstop, would single back up the box to score Hernandez and tie the game at two. Gio Brusa would strikeout looking for out number two. The Monarchs would turn to J.C. Escarra with two on and two outs. On a one and one count, Escarra would launch a three-run home run deep into the North Dakota night, to give the Monarchs a 5-2 lead.
Alex Valdez would come into the game in the bottom of the ninth for the Monarchs. Valdez with strikeout pinch hitter Ben Livorsi and Peter Maris to get the first two outs of the inning. Drew Ward would single to right but Valdez would get the 27th and final out on a fly ball to center from Leo Pena to notch his second save of the postseason.
Glowicki (1-0) picked up the relief win for the Monarchs, while Birlingmair (0-1) was charged with the loss for the RedHawks. The Monarchs now lead the best of three game series one game to none.
The Monarchs and RedHawks will play game two of the West Division Championship Series Wednesday night (9/14) at 6:30 p.m. at Legends Field in Kansas City. The game can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning 30 minutes before game time 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 monarchs baseball.com. and the Monarchs Facebook and Twitter pages for updates throughout the season.
WP: Brian Glowicki (1-0)
LP: Reid Birlingmair (0-1)
S: Valdez (2)