Gonzalez, Tinoco Lead Joplin Blasters to Fourth Straight Victory
In a league full of the top flight managers, Joplin Blasters skipper Carlos Lezcano is quickly establishing that there is a new sheriff in town, and he resides in the home team’s dugout in Joplin, MO. The Blasters won their eighth game in the last ten contests, this time outslugging the Winnipeg Goldeyes in a 9-5 victory, and it was the top of the order that set the stage all night long.
It was a wild first inning. The Joplin Blasters got two runs in the top half. Maikol Gonzalez led off with a single to left field and moved to third on a single by Steven Tinoco. A base hit by Yasser Gomez off of Rob Nixon scored Gonzalez to give the visitors the lead. Two batters later Omar Luna singled scoring Tinoco and it was 2-0.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes have been struggling recently, but they showed real heart, responding in their half of the first. Casio Grider singled to start the inning, and Casey Haerther moved Grider to second two batters later on a single of his own. That brought Nic Jackson to the plate to took a 1-1 pitch from Joplin starter RobTejada and drilled it for his second home run of the season to give the Goldeyes the 3-2 lead.
In the top of the third Joplin tied the score. Gonzalez continued to prove why he is establishing himself as one of the best lead-off men in the league by walking to begin the frame. Tinoco followed with a single, and three batters later Luna lined a base hit to left field, scoring Gonzalez to make it three all.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Blasters retook the lead, scoring four runs and all with two outs. Juan Medina and Gonzalez walked to put runners on first and second. Tinoco followed with a single to center field that scored Medina and moved Gonzalez to third. Gomez then grounded the first pitch he saw back up the middle to extend the lead to two. Catcher Jake Taylor showed he has some wheels, drilling a ball to the wall in center field and lumbering around to third for a triple. Both runners scored and the Joplin Blasters were up 7-3.
In the fifth inning both teams would plate a run. Jesus Solorzano scored on an error in the top half of the inning, and Haerther’s second home run of the season to lead off the bottom of the fifth gave the Winnipeg Goldeyes their fourth run of the game.
In the bottom of the sixth the Goldeyes pulled within three. Luis Alen pinch hit and led off with a single. A walk to Adam Heisler put two on with none out. Two batters later Grider singled scoring Alen to make it 8-5.
The Blasters responded in the top of the seventh. Carlos Ramirez hit his league leading fourth home run of the season to increase the lead back to four.
The Joplin bullpen took over from there, pitching three scoreless innings to close out the game. Tejada (1-0) earned his first win of the season, while Nixon (1-1) evened his record.
The first five batters in the Joplin lineup proved to scale the Winnipeg starter. They were a combined 9-22 with 6 runs and 7 RBI. Gonzalez was 1-2 with 3 runs and 3 walks. Tinoco had 3 hits in 5 trips to the plate, scored 2 runs and drove in one.
By Robert Pannier