The Joplin Blasters completed an improbable, dramatic comeback at Joe Becker Stadium on Saturday night, rallying from a 6-0 deficit to claim a 9-6 victory over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. The win clinched no worse than a series split for the Blasters entering the American Association All-Star break.
The game started on a sour note for the hosts, as Fargo-Moorhead scored five runs on just two hits in the top of the first inning. Starting pitcher Santos Arias walked three straight hitters to begin the game, loading the bases with no outs. After a strikeout, K.D. Kang singled into center field, plating a pair of runs. Brian Humphries punctuated the inning, clubbing a deep three-run homer. Humphries' home run gave Fargo a 5-0 lead before the Blasters even had a chance to hit.
Fargo's offense continued in the top of the sixth inning with another home run, this one off the bat of leadoff hitter Kes Carter. It was Carter's tenth home run of the season.
Following the home run, Arias settled down, and retired 13 of the final 15 hitters he faced. In his team debut, Arias worked four consecutive three-hitter innings, and struck out five hitters in his six frames on the mound.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Blaster bats awoke to the tune of four runs. A leadoff single by Geraldo Valentin, a double by Edwin Gomez, and a walk to Brandon Tierney loaded the bases with no outs. Ermindo Escobar and Conor Sullivan followed with consecutive RBI singles, each of which kept the bases loaded. An error off the bat of Greyson Bogden allowed two more Joplin runs to score, pulling the Blasters within two runs at 6-4.
The RedHawks maintained the 6-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth, as Fargo starter Jose Almarante did not allow runs in six of his seven innings on the mound. Carlos Fuentes, who eventually picked up his first win of the season, pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth innings.
Joplin's dramatics in the bottom of the eighth inning kicked off with a single by Edwin Gomez, who was pinch run for by Sean Smith. Brandon Tierney was hit by a pitch, but a strikeout recorded the first out with runners on first and second. With Conor Sullivan at the plate, Smith stole third, and a throwing error allowed the veteran to score and move the Blasters within a run. Tierney moved up to second, and Sullivan singled into right to tie the game at six.
KC Huth drew a walk, which put runners on first and second for pinch hitter Mark Krueger. The Utah Valley product drilled a triple to right center field, scoring both runners. Krueger then scored on a double by Alex Polston, providing the Blasters with a 9-6 lead. Losing pitcher Colton Reavis was ejected after Polston's double for arguing whether the ball was fair or foul.
Fargo put the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth, but Victor Capellan earned his sixth save with a strikeout to end the game.
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