Mark Krueger’s Perfect Night Leads Joplin Blasters 10-6 Victory
Up 5-2 halfway through Friday night’s contest, the Wichita Wingnuts had to be feeling pretty good about themselves, especially with ace Jon Link on the hill. However, a four-run sixth-inning pushed the Joplin Blasters into the lead, and they would take the contest 10-6. That gave the Blasters wins in the three of the last five games against the Wingnuts in Wichita.
The contest started out well against Blasters starter Isaac Hess. Christian Stringer led off the game with a single, but was picked off. Zack Cox walked and Brent Clevlen followed with a single. Next up was T.J. Mittelstaedt, who drilled a three-run homerun, his ninth of the season.
In the bottom of the second Wichita extended their lead to four. Leo Vargas doubled to start the inning. Two batters later he scored on a single by Cox to make it 4-0.
Link had held Joplin off the scoreboard through the first two innings, but the Blasters got on the board in the third. Back-to-back singles by Mitch Glasser and Geraldo Valentin put runners at the corners with one out. A ground out by Edwin Gomez brought Glasser home and moved Valentin to second. Next up was Charlie Valerio. He ripped a single to center that scored Valentin. As Valentin scored, Matt Chavez cut off the throw to home and Valerio was cut down for the third out of the inning.
Leading 4-2 heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Wingnuts extended their lead. Brennen Salgado started the inning with a single and Vargas drew a walk to put two on with no one out. A base hit by Stringer scored the lead runner and it was 5-2.
Up by three everything was looking good for Wichita, but these pesky Blasters refuse to quit. In the top of the sixth they would take the lead. Sean Smith started off the inning with a double and scored when Mark Krueger followed with a single. A fielder’s choice and an error allowed Brandon Tierney to reach and put the two runners into scoring position. Two batters later Glasser grounded out to score Krueger, and Valentin followed with his eighth homer of the year. Despite the fact that three of those runs were unearned, the Blasters led 6-5 and they would not relinquish the lead.
In the top of the eighth Krueger scored when he doubled to start the inning and came home on a single by KC Huth. That made it 7-5.
In the top of the ninth Joplin extended their lead to five. Greyson Bogden drove home Alex Polston to make it 8-5, and Krueger added a two-run single later in the inning. A sacrifice fly by Clevlen brought Stringer home in the bottom half of the inning but that was all that the Wingnuts could muster as the game ended 10-6.
Link (7-4) took the loss. Raul Rivera (1-3) earned his first win of the year with a scoreless inning of relief. Stringer was 3-5 with a run and an RBI for Wichita. Krueger had a perfect day at the plate, going 5-5 with 2-runs and 3-RBI. Valerio and Bogden added 3-hits each and Valentin scored twice and drove in two.
Game 2 of the three-game set is Saturday night. Todd Kibby (1-0, 3.27) makes his third start for the Wichita Wingnuts. He will be opposed by Victor Ramirez (1-0, 0.00). Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier