Monarchs Crowned Kings of American Association, Guerrero Named MVP
Not only reborn but reigning once again. The Kansas City Monarchs, rebranded after being the Kansas City T-Bones for their first 10 years in the American Association, dominated the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks on Monday evening, 8-1, giving the franchise their second championship since joining the American Association in 2010. Gabriel Guerrero led the way, driving in four to earn the Championship Series MVP.
This was a scoreless contest through the first two frames as Keyvius Sampson and Matt Tomshaw both looked very good early on. Sampson retired the first six batters of the game for the Monarchs while Tomshaw had a single hit as his only blemish through the first two frames, but things changed quickly in the bottom of the third.
Paulo Orlando got things going with a base hit into left field and moved to third when Alexis Olmeda hit a ground rule double over the right field wall. Morgan McCullough then hit a hot shot back to the mound. Tomshaw looked at Orlando at third, forcing him back to the bag before throwing out the Monarchs shortstop. Ryan Grotjohn followed with a walk to load the bases, bringing Darnell Sweeney to the plate. He quickly fell behind 0-2 before striking out looking. It looked like Tomshaw was going to get out of the inning leaving the bases loaded when Guerrero quickly fell behind 0-2, but he evened the could before going with an outside pitch, dropping it just inside the right field line. That brought all three runners around to score and Kansas City had themselves a 3-0 lead.
The RedHawks responded with a run in the top of the fourth. Sampson retired the first two hitters of the inning, but Jordan George reached on an error to keep the frame alive. George moved to second on a wild pitch and Leobaldo Pina followed with a base hit up the middle that scored George to cut the deficit to two. That was the first hit allowed by the Kansas City starter. Dylan Kelly followed with a base hit that moved Pina to third, but Sampson struck out John Silviano looking to maintain the 3-1 advantage.
Fargo looked like they would get a rally going in the top of the fifth when Alex Boxwell and Sam Dexter followed with back-to-back singles with one down. Correlle Prime then flew out before Manuel Boscan grounded out, a masterful performance by the right-hander. Sampson gave the Monarchs what they needed, allowing four hits and an unearned run in five innings to earn the victory.
His team responded after watching their starter wiggle his way out of trouble. In the bottom of the fifth, McCullough led off with a single. Two batters later, Sweeney singled into right moving McCullough to third. That brought Guerrero to the plate, who lined a single into right-center that easily scored McCullough. Sweeney raced for third beating the throw. Guerrero headed for second and looked like he was safe, but he the umpire ruled he was out. With two down and Casey Gillaspie at the plate, a Tomshaw pitch bounced in front of the plate, hitting off Kelly and ricocheting about 10 feet to his left. Sweeney raced for home, just beating Kelly’s throw to make it a 5-1 game.
The Monarchs extended their lead in the bottom of the sixth. Tomshaw came out and was replaced by Luke Lind. He was greeted by back-to-back singles by Colin Willis and Paulo Orlando. Olmeda laid down a perfect bunt to move both runners into scoring position, bringing McCullough to the plate. He drilled the second pitch he saw to right-center, bringing both Willis and Orlando around to score and Kansas City had a 7-1 lead.
From there, the Kansas City bullpen was in complete command. Carlos Diaz come on in the sixth and allowed a leadoff walk, but then retired the next three batters, striking out Silviano to end the frame. In the seventh, Dalbert Siri came on and retired the RedHawks in order. Jeremy Rhoades pitched a perfect eighth.
The Monarchs added one more run in the bottom of the eighth. With one down, McCullough doubled, his third hit of the contest. Two batters later, Sweeney singled to right-center, bringing the shortstop home to make it 8-1. McCullough finished with two runs and two RBI in the game. Sweeney also had three hits.
That brought closer Jameson McGrane on for the ninth. He gave up a leadoff single, but then induced a double-play. Next up was Silviano, who hit a ball back to Jameson. The pitcher took the ball to first, recording the final out and the celebration was on.
Gabriel Guerrero was named as the American Association Championship Series MVP. The outfielder went 6-14 with two runs and six RBI. He added two doubles. Guerrero had an impressive playoff run in general, going 14-27 with five runs scored and 13 RBI in six games.
For the Monarchs, it was the second championship in four seasons. The team won back in 2018 as the Kansas City T-Bones.
By Robert Pannier