Blasters Use Timely Hitting in 5-1 Win over Texas
The Joplin Blasters earned a victory at Joe Becker Stadium on Friday night, taking the first game of a series with the Texas AirHogs by a 5-1 margin. The Blasters were outhit 7-5, but never trailed en route to their second victory in their last three tries.
The Blasters got off to a good start in the bottom of the second inning, scoring two runs. Willie Cabrera was hit by a pitch, Charlie Valerio walked, and Aaron Brill singled to load the bases with no outs. Juan Medina bounced into a 4-6-3 double play, which allowed Cabrera to score the opening run of the game. With two outs, Cory Morales then drove in Valerio on a single to give the Blasters a 2-0 lead. In his third game with the team, Morales led the team with two hits in addition to the RBI.
In the third inning, Joplin plated another two runs to extend the lead. A grounder from Geraldo Valentin was unable to be gloved, putting the leadoff hitter aboard. After a popout, Valerio crushed a home run over the center field wall, his first of the season. Valerio's homer gave the Blasters a 4-0 lead through three innings.
Joplin extended the lead to five runs in the fifth inning. Mitch Glasser started the inning by reaching on an error. Cabrera then drove in his 17th run of the season on a groundout to shortstop.
The Blasters' pitching on Friday night was outstanding. Keith Picht made his first start for the ballclub, and worked 3.2 shutout innings. Picht struck out five hitters during his time on the mound, and walked just two. Matt Parish added 1.1 innings of work, and picked up his second win of the season.
Texas scored their only run of the game in the top of the seventh. Nick Akins hit his second homer of the season to right field, which pulled the AirHogs to within four runs.
After Akins' homer, the Joplin relief pitchers shut down the AirHogs to conclude the game. Jose Ortega and Victor Capellan retired nine of the final ten hitters, and did not allow a hit after the longball.
The win moved the Blasters into a three-way tie for second place in the South Division, two games behind the Laredo Lemurs. Texas starter Matt Shepherd took the loss for the AirHogs.
Joplin will have an opportunity to win the series on Saturday, playing the second game of the series with Texas. Josh Hodges makes the start for the Blasters, and is opposed by righty Cody Hebner. Saturday is Star Wars Night at the ballpark, and the team will be wearing special uniforms that will be auctioned off.
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