Belzer Tames Dogs as Monarchs Roll
By Caleb Grizzle, Kansas City Monarchs
Rosemont, Ill. — The Kansas City Monarchs (19-7) have been one of the hottest American Association baseball teams as of late, leading the league on the mound and at the plate as a team, winning nine of their last ten games. This dominance continued into game two of three against the second best in the Association, Chicago Dogs (17-9) in their commanding 11-1 win Saturday night.
The best team in the American Association started off the first frame with a two-out, solo blast from Gaby Guerrero to give the Monarchs an early, 1-0 lead. Nick Belzer (2-2) received the start for the Monarchs and held the Dogs scoreles during his six innings pitched, only allowing two hits. The Dogs threatened in the first with a walk, a stolen base and a single but did not capitalize with a runner in scoring position.
The Monarchs continued to slowly add to their lead with a Jan Hernandez double to the right field corner with one out in the second inning. Hernandez’s double set up Casey Gillaspie for his first of two RBI singles on the night. The Monarchs led 2-0 heading into the home half of the second. The Dogs again were able to swipe a base after a single but were not able to steal a run.
Patience paid its dividends in the top of the third, as Darnell Sweeney battled in a 13 pitch at-bat to draw a two-out walk. Speedy Darnell Sweeney stole 2nd, and following Guerrero’s walk, Matt Adams slapped an RBI single to left field against the shift. The Monarchs closed out the bottom of the third in nerve wracking fashion by putting the go-ahead run at the plate with two outs. Belzer retired the side and held the score at 3-0.
The Monarchs offense forced an early call to the bullpen to replace Dogs’ starter Johnathon Tripp with James Reeves. Hernandez and Gillaspie teamed up again in the fourth inning to add to the Monarchs lead. Reeves was replaced in the fourth inning with Joe Cavallaro. Hernandez started off the inning with a double to right field and advanced to third after an error from the Dogs right fielder, Danny Mars. Gillaspie picked up his second RBI single to left field and brought Hernandez home to add to their lead. Hernandez contributed on defense in the bottom half of the inning, flashing some leather on a sliding catch on the right field line to assist Belzer in retiring the side.
The offenses stayed quiet on both sides in the fifth inning, as both teams were retired without recording a hit or any runners gaining scoring position. Belzer brought his strong, scoreless outing to a close, retiring the Dogs in a one, two, three manner. Belzer finished with six innings pitched, no earned runs, three strikeouts, and two hits allowed.
Jordan Martinson replaced Belzer and shut down the Dogs in the seventh with a strikeout and diving stop at third from Thompson. The Monarchs offense laid the knockout punch in the top of the eighth with a flurry of offense to add to their lead. After a David Thompson single, Jan Hernandez got the ball rolling with a deep, two-run home run to center field to push the Monarchs lead to 6-0. Casey Gillaspie’s walk provided Pete Kozma the opportunity he needed to pick up his first RBI of the night with a double. Kozma’s double forced the Dogs to call on their sixth pitcher of the night, Tanner Shears. Shears was not able to prevent the Monarchs from adding one more. Kozma reached third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly from J.C. Escarra. The Monarchs led 8-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth.
Martinson was replaced by Matt Hartman to start the home half of the eighth and Hartman helped force a 4-6-3 double play to retire the side. In the final frame, the Monarchs piled on their lead with an RBI single from Matt Adams and a two-run home run from David Thompson.
Hartman allowed only one run in the ninth, striking out four batters in the ninth inning, following a dropped third strike to begin the inning. The Dogs were able to load the bases following a walk, single, and a hit-by-pitch at bat. Hartman closed the door with a strikeout to secure the 11-1 win for the Monarchs.
The Monarchs will play game three in Chicago tomorrow (6/12) at 3:00 p.m. The game can be heard on the Monarchs Broadcast Network with the pre-game beginning at 2:30 p.m. and the video stream airing on aabaseball.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 monarchsbaseball.com. and the Monarchs Facebook and Twitter pages for updates throughout the season.
WP: Nick Belzer (2-2)
LP: Johnathan Tripp (2-1)