Three runs in the tenth inning were the difference on Thursday night, as the Joplin Blasters fell in the opening contest of a four-game set with the Fargo-Moorehead RedHawks. The visitors from North Dakota claimed a 7-4 victory in ten innings at Joe Becker Stadium.
Initially, the Blaster offense was clicking against Fargo starter Dylan Mouzakes. Joplin scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning to take the game's first advantage. Edwin Gomez drew a leadoff walk, and a double by Brandon Tierney put runners on second and third with no outs. Rookie KC Huth followed with a groundout to second that allowed Gomez to score. After a Sean Smith walk put runners on the corners, Ermindo Escobar drove in Tierney with a single. Mitch Glasser finished the scoring in the second with an RBI single of his own, giving the Blasters a 3-0 lead.
That lead vanished in the next half inning. Dustin Geiger and Mike Gilmartin hit singles to start the top of the third inning. With one out, leadoff hitter Kes Carter launched his ninth home run of the season well over the right field wall. Carter's homer tied the game at three.
The Blasters re-took the lead in the bottom of the inning with a lone run. Gomez drew his second walk with one out, and a second double by Tierney placed runners back on second and third. In an inning of "seconds", Huth drove in his second run of the night with a single into right field. Huth's hit pushed Joplin ahead 4-3.
Joplin's lead would remain until the eighth inning due to solid pitching from both teams. Blaster starter Victor Ramirez struck out seven hitters over his five innings on the mound, and Keith Picht tossed a pair of shutout frames out of the bullpen. For Fargo, former Blaster Patrick Mincey pitched 3.2 innings without allowing a run.
Thursday's game was evened by the RedHawks in the top of the eighth. Keury De La Cruz and Josh Mazzola began the inning with singles, and a walk to K.D. Kang loaded the bases. After Jose Ortega struck out Brian Humphries, Geiger drove in De La Cruz with a single to tie the game. One punchout each from Ortega and Victor Capellan stranded all three runners, and kept the game tied.
Fargo's victory was secured with the three extra-inning runs. Geiger, who went 4-for-5, clubbed a two-run homer to right field, scoring Humphries after his one-out single. Gilmartin also had four hits for the RedHawks, and he doubled and scored on a Carter single.
Capellan was charged with the loss for the Blasters, while Fargo closer Colton Reavis was the winning pitcher.
The final series before the American Association All-Star break continues at Joe Becker Stadium on Friday night. Joplin and Fargo-Moorehead will engage in a battle of southpaws, as Blaster Luis Gonzalez faces RedHawk Matt Snyder at 7:05 p.m.
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