The Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (3-2) were a pain in the Monarchs’ side all night, as the Kansas City Monarchs (3-1) lost the back-and-forth battle against the RedHawks by a score of 8-5 Wednesday night, forcing a decisive game three matchup to decide the winner of the West. This roller coaster of a ballgame featured four lead changes, but Fargo came out on top in the tug-of-war match after going ahead in the eighth and never looking back.
Monarchs starting pitcher Nick Belzer led the game off with a two-strike hit-by-pitch to leadoff batter Peter Maris. Belzer would retire the next three batters, but Maris would come around and score in the process, having the Monarchs bats enter the bottom half of the inning down 1-0.
However, the Monarchs offense would see their first baserunner in the second inning after Jan Hernandez drew a one-out walk from the five hole. Casey Gillaspie followed Hernandez up with a single up the middle that just got past the sliding glove of shortstop Sam Dexter, putting runners at first and third. J.C. Escarra, the hero of game one in Fargo, would deliver again with a fielder’s choice that scored Hernandez, evening the score at one. Pete Kozma would then make it three straight productive at-bats when he hit a ground ball to the 5-6 hole, scoring Escarra and giving the Monarchs a 2-1 lead.
In the third, the RedHawks would threaten with runners on second and third with only one away, but Nick Belzer wouldn’t allow it to get any worse for Kansas City as he struck out Drew Ward and then got Leobaldo Piña to ground out, stranding both. The Monarchs would also threaten in their half-inning when they got runners at the corners with one away. After a Jacob Robson strikeout, Hernandez would come to the plate and smack a line drive off of the left field Home Run Patio, extending the Kansas City lead to two. An intentional walk to Casey Gillaspie would load the bases, but J.C. Escarra would fly out to end the inning with the score 3-1.
The RedHawks would again threaten in the fourth, this time loading the bases with one away, but a ground ball right to Kevin Santa at the second base bag would be cause for an inning-ending double play, again stranding the RedHawks scoreless. The Monarchs would also get themselves to a bases-loaded situation in the bottom half, but a long line drive to deep center field off the bat of Ryan Grotjohn would be caught by center fielder Evan Alexander just before the warning track, retiring the inning without a score from either side despite both bases-loaded jams.
After a quiet fifth inning, Manuel Boscan woke Legends Field up in the top of the sixth with a two-run blast to left field, tying the game up at threes.
The RedHawks would then catch a break in the seventh when Brandon Koch would come on and allow two walks, putting runners at first and second with two outs. Then, a ground ball to Monarchs first baseman Casey Gillapsie would be mishandled, loading the bases for John Silviano, who delivered with a two-RBI single, making the score 5-3 Fargo-Moorhead.
The bottom of the seventh would also prove fruitful for the home nine, however. Ryan Grotjohn stepped to the plate with one out and put a charge into one, sending an absolute blast to the top of the right field Home Run Hill, cutting the deficit to one. Then, Jacob Robson would walk and steal second base, putting himself in scoring position when Casey Gillaspie would step in with two outs. Gillaspie would make up for his earlier mistake and come through with an RBI double to the left field corner, tying the game up once again, this time at five a piece.
Monarchs relief pitcher Jeremy Rhoades would begin the eighth inning on the bump, and would promptly walk Alec Olund. Just the way the RedHawks drew it up, Olund would be moved to second by way of the sacrifice bunt, and then be scored with an RBI single right up the middle by Sam Dexter, once again giving the RedHawks a lead, 6-5.
After a relatively quiet eighth, Alex Valdez came on for the Monarchs to attempt to shut down the top of the ninth. His inning uncharacteristically got off to a shaky start, allowing a walk and then a single. Silviano then made it three straight baserunners when he sliced an RBI single to left field, adding one to the lead but also getting himself thrown out at second as he tried for the double. Alec Olund would then drive the nail deeper with another RBI single, bringing the score to 8-5 RedHawks. In the bottom half, the Monarchs would show little signs of life, going down in four batters and sending the West Division Championship Series to a decisive game three.
The Monarchs are back in action for the winner-takes-all rubber match tomorrow night (9/15). The game will start at 6:30 p.m. and can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning at 6:00 p.m. 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: Brady Stover (1-0)
LP: Jeremy Rhoades (0-1)
S: Alex DuBord (1)
By: Adam Cook