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Blasters Earn Split with 3-2 Victory in Wichita

July 14, 2016 - American Association (AA) - Joplin Blasters News Release

The Joplin Blasters earned a split with the Wichita Wingnuts on Thursday night, scoring a run in the top of the eighth inning to claim a 3-2 victory at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The late victory gave Joplin their second win in four tries against the Wingnuts in the set.

An error allowed Wichita to score the opening run of the game in the bottom of the second. Matt Chavez drew a walk with one out, and a walk to Brent Dean and a single by Brennen Salgado loaded the bases with one out. After Leo Vargas lined out to third for the second out, Chavez scored when an attempted pick off play evaded Joplin fielders.

The Blasters manufactured their first run of the game in the top of the fifth inning, tying the game. Mark Krueger hit a leadoff single and was bunted over to second by Alex Polston. KC Huth followed with a single to put runners on the corners with one out. A fielder's choice off the bat of Sean Smith saw Huth retired at second, but was enough to plate Krueger for Joplin's opening run of the contest.

It took only three pitches in the bottom of the fifth for the Wingnuts to retake the lead. On an 0-2 pitch from starter Wander Perez, Richard Prigatano belted his fifth home run of the season. The leadoff shot gave a Wichita a 2-1 lead that would last until the seventh inning.

Krueger, a rookie outfielder from Utah Valley, worked an eight pitch at-bat to lead off the seventh inning, an appearance that ended with a bang. Krueger crushed his first professional home run over the right-center field wall at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. Krueger's one-out homer tied the game at two, and set up Joplin heroics in the top of the eighth inning. Krueger and fellow rookie KC Huth would combine to reach base in each of their eight combined plate appearances, going 6-for-6.

Joplin's eighth began with a strikeout, but Mitch Glasser struck with a double down the right field line. With Glasser on second, Geraldo Valentin drew a walk, but Charlie Valerio flew out to left field. With two outs, Edwin Gomez stepped up and singled up the middle. The base hit scored Glasser from second base, and gave the Blasters a decisive 3-2 advantage.

Keith Picht and Victor Capellan continued to stymie opposing hitters, each working a scoreless inning in the eighth and ninth, respectively. Capellan earned his third save, while Jose Ortega picked up the win. Ortega pitched 2.1 scoreless frames as the first man out of the bullpen.

After the split with the first place Wingnuts, the Blasters return home for three games against the Kansas City T-Bones. The series begins with Alex De La Cruz on the mound for Joplin at Joe Becker Stadium on Friday night. Friday night is a fireworks show at the ballpark presented by EGS, and thunder sticks will also be given away. Saturday's game is Hurley's Heroes Comics and Games Night, which will be accompanied by a free comic giveaway.

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