The Kansas City Monarchs (62-35) and Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks (64-33) came into the pivotal Friday night match up on different waves of momentum. The Monarchs had won eight in a row and had pulled to within one game of the front-running RedHawks who had dropped two of three on their end of season road trip. Yet, it was the RedHawks, behind lefty ace Kevin McGovern (10-3) and three long balls that took the series opener 6-2.
Kansas City had chances in the game, drawing 10 walks and stranding 15 runners, six off McGovern. The all-time American Association strikeout leader was able to fight off the Monarchs in the first, second and third with two on and two outs. McGovern finished the game going 5.2 innings getting the win. His final line was 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 9 SO.
Fargo-Moorhead took the lead in the top of the first on a solo home run for Manuel Boscan off Monarchs starter Brock Gilliam (6-4). With the RedHawks leading 1-0 in the top of the third, Leo Pena had a two-RBI single to make it 3-0 in favor of the “Fargos”.
The Monarchs would answer in the fourth inning on a solo home run for Pete Kozma his second of the season and the team’s 161st. Kansas City is just one home run away from tying their franchise mark of 162 set in 2010 in the old Northern League.
The RedHawks would tack on another run in the top of the fifth. Peter Maris would single and move to second on a passed ball on strikeout. Drew Ward then worked a walk, but a wild pitch moved Maris to third. Leo Pena picked up his third RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to center to make it a 4-1 game. Brock Giliam would be done after five, giving up four earned runs on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
Fargo-Moorhead picked up another run in the top of the sixth when Nick Novak hit a solo home run to right off Monarchs reliever Brian Glowicki to up the lead to 5-1.
The Monarchs picked up their final run of the night in the home half of the sixth. McGovern would walk Casey Gillaspie with one out and surrender a single to Gio Brusa to put runners at the corners. Tanner Riley came into the game and gave up an RBI single off the bat of Pete Kozma back up the box to make it 5-2 RedHawks. Riley would walk Mallex Smith to load the bases but would retire Kevin Santa on a ground ball to second to leave the sacks full for KC.
In the top of the seventh, the RedHawks struck again with a long ball off the bat of Peter Maris. His solo shot to right make it 6-2 in favor of Fargo-Moorhead.
The Monarchs would work two walks to start the seventh off Riley but would not get any traction off reliever Joe Jones to end the threat. In the eighth inning the Monarchs got two on via back-to-back walks with two outs but once again came up short. In the bottom of the ninth the Monarchs would get a double by Casey Gillaspie and a walk by Gio Brusa with two outs, but Alex DuBord would get the final out to preserve a 6-2 win.
The win dropped the Monarchs 2 games behind the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks for the West Division lead in the American Association with three games to play and lower the RedHawks magic number to two. The RedHawks will clinch the division crown with one more win while the Monarchs will need to win the last three games to claim their third regular season division title in a row.
Both teams are playoff bound and will face off in game two of the four-game series Saturday night (9/3) at Legends Field in Kansas City with a first pitch set for 6:00 p.m. The game can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the video stream airing on aa baseball.tv.
Tickets to all Monarchs regular season and 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: McGovern (10-3)
LP: Gilliam (6-4)
BY: Dan Vaughan, JR.