The KC Monarchs (3-2) championship road came to a heartbreaking end Thursday night at Legends Field as the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (4-2) punched their ticket to the American Association Championship Series (Miles Wolff Cup) with a 4-1 win. The RedHawks got stellar starting pitching from true rookie Peyton Wigginton (1-0), who held the league’s leading offense in check scattering six hits over six shutout innings.
The RedHawks grabbed the lead in the top of the third inning with a lead off single by Evan Alexander and a two-run home run from Christian Correa to left to make it 2-0 off Monarchs starter Jalen Miller (0-1).
While Wigginton was able to hold the Monarchs off the board, Kansas City did have chances to get the offense going. The Monarchs got a runner on in each of the first four innings and had the bases loaded in the fourth, but Wigginton was able to make the key pitches to keep Kansas City at bay.
The RedHawks got a one out double in the fifth and scored on a wide throw at first on a ground ball to the deep right side of the infield from Ryan Grotjohn. The Monarchs second sacker made a great diving play in a deep shift in shallow rightfield, but the throw was low and bounced wide of first baseman Casey Gillaspie for an unearned run.
The “Fargos” would tack on another run in the top of the sixth on a lead off double from John Silviano off Jordan Martinson. Manuel Boscan hit a ball to short that Pete Kozma threw to third to get Silviano, but the throw was low and Darnell Sweeney could not come up with the ball to put runners at the corners. Alec Olund hit a shallow fly to right for the first out, but Evan Alexander hit a sac fly to center to make it a 4-0 score in favor of the RedHawks.
Kansas City would load the bases once again against Wigginton in the sixth, but the lefty would once again make a big pitch to get out of the inning with two outs. Tanner Riley came in for the RedHawks in the seventh and walk J.C. Escarra then get a double play ball off the bat of
Kevin Santa. The rookie right-hander would then issue back to back walks to Mallex Smith and Darnell Sweeney before Joe Jones came in to get the final out. The Monarchs lone run came in the home half of the eighth inning. Jan Hernandez singled off Jones with one out. Casey Gillaspie then doubled to left to put runners at second the third. Pete Kozma struck out but a wild pitch from Jones brought home Hernandez for the only Monarchs run. Jones would retire J.C. Escarra with a pop to second and the Monarchs would go to the ninth down 4-1.
Closer Alex Dubord would work the ninth for the RedHawks. He retired the first two batters before Darnell Sweeney hit a single off the wall in left. Ryan Grotjohn smoked a ball to the right side to shallow right into the defensive shift right into the glove of second baseman Peter Maris to finish out the game closing the book on the Monarchs season by a 4-1 score. The RedHawks move on to play the Milwaukee Milkmen who won the East Division Series on Wednesday night over Cleburne.
WP: Peyton Wigginton
LP: Jalen Miller (0-1)
S: Alex DuBord (2)
Kansas City completed another successful season under the Monarchs name. The Monarchs led the American Association at the plate hitting .293 during the regular season. The team also led in runs scored (696), home runs (165), OBP (.384) and OPS (.889). On the hill the club had the lowest regular season ERA at 4.40 and tops in strike outs (967) and first in WHIP (1.38). The home run and strikeout totals were new league records and the regular season record of 65-35 was the second highest total in franchise history.
Season tickets to the 2023 Kansas City Monarchs season can be purchased by calling 913-328-5618 or by visiting monarchsbaseball.com for more information. 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 off season.
By: DAN VAUGHAN JR.