Brandon Tierney Leads Joplin Blasters in Slugfest Over Wingnuts 13-12
The Joplin Blasters may be last in the South Division of the American Association, but this team has no fear about facing the division’s top team. For the fourth time in the last six games, the Blasters downed the Wichita Wingnuts, this time winning a slugfest, 13-12.
Todd Kibby started for Wichita against Victor Ramirez, and neither pitcher would make it through the fourth. The Blasters got on the scoreboard right away in the top of the first. Singles by Geraldo Valentin and Charlie Valerio put runners at first and second with two outs. Brandon Tierney then delivered a double to right field that scored both runners to make it 2-0. He then scored on a base hit by Mark Kruger to make it 3-0.
The Wingnuts got a run back in the bottom half of the inning. Brent Clevlen’s 14th homer of the season made it 3-1.
In the bottom of the second Wichita took the lead. Matt Chavez walked to start the inning and Martin Medina was hit by a pitch to put two on with no one out. A fielder’s choice put runners at the corners and Chavez scored on a wild pitch. A two-out triple by Leo Vargas scored Richard Prigatano to tie the game and he scored when Christian Stringer doubled to make it 4-3. That lead did not last long.
In the top of the third the Joplin Blasters responded with three-runs of their own. Greyson Bogden led off the inning by drawing a walk, and Valerio reached on an error. Two batters later Krueger doubled to score Bogden and both runners came home on an error by the first baseman. That made the score 6-4 in favor of the Blasters.
In the bottom half of the inning, T.J. Mittelstaedt tied the game with one swing of the bat. Clevlen walked to start the inning and Mittelstaedt then turned on a 1-1 pitch and drilled it for his 10th homer of the year. That tied the game at six.
It had been an amazing first three-innings. Already the lead had changed hands three times, but it was about to get even more exciting.
In the top of the fourth, Mitch Glasser led off with a walk and Valentin followed with a single to put two on with no one out. Two batters later, Valerio lined a single into left that scored Glasser, putting Joplin back on top. That would be it for Kibby.
Fabian Roman would take over and would close out the inning, but not before giving up a three-run homer to Tierney that put Joplin up 10-6. That was Tierney’s second homerun of the season.
The Blasters were also done with their starter and sent Carlos Fuentes out in the bottom of the fourth. Brent Dean greeted him with a single and would later score on a ground out by Stringer. There were two outs and no one on, but Cox kept the inning alive with a walk and scored on a double by Clevlen. That pulled the Wingnuts within two.
In the fifth, both teams would score a run. Sean Smith drilled his fourth homerun of the season to start the top half of the inning. In the bottom half, Medina singled to start the frame and he scored on a double by Dean.
In the sixth, the Wichita Wingnuts would pull within one. Mittelstaedt doubled with no one on and two outs, and scored when Medina lined a single to center. That made the score 11-10 and there were still three innings left to go.
Neither team scored in the seventh, and both came up with a run in the eighth. Tierney drove home Bogden with a fielder’s choice and Clevlen scored on a passed ball.
In the ninth the Joplin Blasters added an insurance run when Glasser singled to left to score Smith. That put the team up by two with closer Victor Capellan coming on to close out the game.
Prigatano started the inning by reaching on an error and he moved to third on a single by Vargas two batters later. A ground out by Stringer scored Prigatano and moved Vargas to second. Now just 180-feet from tying the score the Wingnuts were putting their hopes on Clevlen to come through. He drilled a ball to center, but Smith made a nice catch to end the game and the Joplin Blasters were 13-12 winners.
All but one Joplin Blasters player had at least one-hit in the game. As a team that Blasters rapped out 14-hits, led by Valerio, who was 3-5 with 3-runs and an RBI. Tierney was the big producer on the night, going 2-4 with 2-runs and 6-RBI, a career high.
T.J. Mittelstaedt became the second Wichita Wingnuts player in less than a week to hit for the cycle, joining Zack Cox. The Wingnuts center fielder was 4-4 with 2-runs and 2-RBI. Clevlen was 3-5 with 3-runs scored and 3-runs driven in.
The Joplin Blasters will go for the sweep on Sunday. Garrett Gould (0-0, 0.75) will go for the Wichita Wingnuts. Game time is 1:05.
By Robert Pannier