Tierney's Walk-Off Single Lifts Blasters to Win over Sioux City
The Joplin Blasters claimed a dramatic victory on Monday night, walking off for a 2-1 win over the Sioux City Explorers. Brandon Tierney hit an infield single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth for Joplin's fourth walk-off win of the season.
Monday's game was dominated by the pitchers, namely starters Alex De La Cruz and Ryan Zimmerman. De La Cruz allowed just one run on three hits over his six innings, striking out eight Explorer hitters. Zimmerman responded with 5.2 innings of four-hit ball with five strikeouts. Neither starter was ultimately involved in the game's decision.
Sioux City got the scoring going in the top of the fourth inning. Michael Lang hit a leadoff double to center field, a two-bagger that just evaded the dive of outfielder KC Huth. After De La Cruz retired the next two hitters, Tim Colwell put the Explorers on the board with an RBI single to right field.
Joplin wasted little time in tying the game, scoring in the bottom of the fourth inning without the aid of a ball put in play. Zimmerman quickly recorded the first two outs of the frame, but then issued consecutive walks to Mark Krueger, Ermindo Escobar, and Huth. On another full count pitch, Sean Smith was plunked by the delivery, forcing Krueger in from third and evening the score. A strikeout kept the game 1-1 after four innings.
The Blasters threatened in the fifth, sixth, and eighth, leaving four runners in scoring position during the stretch. In total, the Blasters left 13 runners on base during the contest, a number that includes the three runners on base when the game ended.
Fortunately for the Blasters, Carlos Fuentes retired the final eight hitters he faced beginning in the seventh inning to keep the 1-1 score intact heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Alex Polston began the bottom of the ninth inning with a single, a slow-roller to second base that could not be corralled in time. Mitch Glasser, who was playing in his 150th game as a Blaster, then popped up his bunt attempt for the first out of the inning.
Next was Will Soto, who singled into left field. On the single, Polston daringly darted for third, and slid in safely to put runners on the corners. The Explorers intentionally walked Valentin to load the bases, which led to Tierney's single. The game-winner, which came on a 0-1 pitch, was bounced up the middle, and an attempted flip from shortstop Nate Samson was errant.
For his stellar three innings on the mound, Fuentes was awarded his second victory of the 2016 season. P.J. Francescon entered in the eighth inning, and allowed the walk-off single to drop to 0-5. Offensively, all nine starters reached base at least once in the victory.
The Blasters can clinch a series victory over the Explorers, who swept Joplin in Iowa, on Tuesday night back at Joe Becker Stadium. The middle game of the three game series is set for 7:05 p.m., and will feature lefty Luis Gonzalez battling Sioux City southpaw Cody Forsythe.
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