Joplin Jumps Out Early, Holds on for Win over RedHawks

The Joplin Blasters jumped out to a 7-0 lead, and held on for a 8-5 victory over the Fargo-Moorehead Redhawks on Friday night at Joe Becker Stadium. The victory evened the series with the visiting RedHawks at a game apiece, and moved the Blasters within one game of third place in the South Division.

Joplin scored the game's first seven runs, an offensive onslaught that began with a run in the bottom of the first. Mitch Glasser started the night with a double into right field, and he advanced to third base on a subsequent groundout. After a strikeout, Brandon Tierney put the Blasters on the board with an opposite field single, scoring Glasser for a 1-0 Blaster lead.

That lead would expand to three in the next inning for the Blasters. KC Huth hit a one-out single, and a single by fellow rookie Alex Polston gave Joplin runners on the corners with two outs. Polston was then able to steal second, and the throw down allowed Huth to score. Polston then moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when the throw to third sailed into left field.

Leading 3-0, the Blasters would keep Fargo's potent offense at bay behind a quality start from veteran Luis Gonzalez. The lefty did not allow a run over his first five innings on the mound, striking out six RedHawk hitters. Gonzalez would earn the victory in the contest, his first in a Joplin uniform.

Friday's biggest inning was produced by the Blasters in the bottom of the fifth. For the second time, Glasser hit a leadoff double, this one to left field. Geraldo Valentin drove in the leadoff hitter with a single that bounced through the middle of the diamond. Greyson Bogden would add a perfectly placed bunt single, which led to Tierney launching his third home run of the season into the left field bleachers. Tierney's longball, which accounted for three of his four RBIs, gave the Blasters a lead of 7-0, one that seemed safe until the final innings.

The sixth inning saw the teams trade long home runs, keeping Joplin's lead at seven runs. Fargo got on the board with a two-out home run from Keury De La Cruz, while the Blasters answered with a deep shot by Valentin, his team-high tenth of the season. After six innings, the Blasters held an 8-1 lead.

Fargo's attempted rally began in the top of the seventh with a pair of runs. The RedHawks loaded the bases with one out on a Brian Humphries single and walks to Dustin Geiger and Mike Gilmartin. With the bases loaded, relief pitcher Raul Rivera balked before delivering a pitch that could have ended the inning on a double play. The hitter, Luke Bailey, then drove in another runner on a single, but Gilmartin was thrown out at the plate.

Another pair of runs crossed the plate in the top of the eighth. Ryan Pineda singled and De La Cruz doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs. A fielder's choice brought Pineda home, but saw De La Cruz retired at third. K.D. Kang then singled, and a sacrifice fly from Humphries scored Fargo's fourth unanswered run. The RedHawks would load the bases to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, but Roby Romero struck out Bailey to end the frame with the Blasters ahead 8-5.

The RedHawks threatened in the ninth inning, again getting the tying run to the plate, but Victor Capellan was able to pick up his fifth save. Fargo starter Matt Snyder was charged with his third loss.

With the series tied at one, the Blasters and RedHawks enter the weekend with the set still up for grabs. The third game of the series kicks off at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

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