Kansas City T-Bones American Association Champions; Alay Lago Series MVP
The Kansas City T-Bones found themselves trailing for the second straight night but, as they had done the night before, the team rode a huge home run to retake the lead. Alay Lago delivered the big hit, a two run blast in the sixth, helping the T-Bones to the 5-3 victory over the St. Paul Saints, as the team won their second American Association championship.
This would be a scoreless tie through the first three innings and both pitchers were in complete command. St. Paul starter Chris Nunn did not allow a hit through the first three innings, while T-Bones starter Jared Mortensen gave up just one hit.
In the fourth, the T-Bones would manufacture a run despite not recording a hit. Todd Cunningham worked the count full before drawing a walk and moved to second on a ground out. A wild pitch moved him to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Nieto to make it 1-0.
Mortensen continued to keep the Saints off the scoreboard through the fourth, but St. Paul would finally put up three in the fifth to take the lead. As the walk had hurt Nunn, a one out walk to Dan Motl would come back to haunt the Kansas City starter. Joey Wong followed with a drive to wall in right-center. Motl came all the way around from first to score while Wong raced into second. Max Murphy then drew a walk, and Kyle Barrett followed with a base hit to shallow center that brought home Wong to give the Saints their first lead. A base hit by Brady Shoemaker brought home Murphy to make it 3-1.
The Kansas City T-Bones would get one of those runs back in the bottom half of the inning. Keith Curcio led off with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice. A base hit by Danny Hayes brought him home to make this a one run game. The T-Bones looked like they would get a chance to tie the score when Ryan Brett walked and both runners moved up on a ground out. Howevr, Nunn would get the final out on a ground ball to keep his team on top.
In the sixth, the T-Bones would take back the lead. With one down, Adrian Nieto singled to right field. That would be it for Nunn. Mike Devine came on and he got ahead of Alay Lago 1-2 before Lago absolutely crushed a shot over the left field wall that put his team on top 4-3.
The T-Bones would add an insurance run in the seventh. Brett started the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice. Two batters later, Noah Perio, Jr. laced a ball to right-center that hoped the fence for a ground rule double. That easily scored Brett to make it 5-3.
The Saints would record a two out hit in the eighth and that brought a call for closer Cody Winiarsksi. The closer gave up a hit to Zach Walters that put the tying run at first, but he got a fly out to end the threat. Winiarski returned for the ninth and closed out the inning as the Kansas City T-Bones won the American Association title.
The T-Bones bullpen was brilliant all night, tossing 4.2 innings of scoreless relief. Marcus Crescentini earned the victory with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. Mike Devine (0-1) took the loss.
Alay Lago finished the game 1-3 with a run, 2-RBI and that huge home run. He finished the series 7-15 with 3-runs and 4-RBI. Lago added two doubles and a home run.
The victory finished off the series, as the Kansas City T-Bones won the series 3-1. This was their first title since 2008.
By Robert Pannier