KANSAS CITY, Kan. – A starter replaced the closer for Kansas City in the ninth on Tuesday, but it didn’t help as the T-Bones gave up three runs on two errors and blew a one-run lead in a 9-7 loss to Lincoln at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
In a bizarre top of the ninth, with the T-Bones leading 7-6 in front of 4,951, Kansas City closer Mike Mehlich threw just 11 pitches as the Saltdogs loaded the bases with a base hit and two walks. Then, T-Bones manager Kenny Hook replaced Mehlich with Brian Grening, one of the club’s top starters. However, the Kansas City defense committed two errors behind Grening and Lincoln ended up scoring three runs in the inning.
Lincoln pitcher P.J. Zocchi picked up his 21st save on the season as he shut down the T-Bones in the bottom of the ninth.
Kansas City took a seemingly comfortable lead in the bottom of the seventh. With runners at the corners and two outs, Brandon Jones blooped a double down the left field line, scoring Trevor Coleman and giving Kansas City a 6-4 lead. Then, Lee Cruz beat out an infield single that scored Adam De La Garza and put the T-Bones up, 7-4.
The T-Bones had their chances to score more in the middle innings, loading the bases for three consecutive innings – fourth, fifth and sixth – but came away with only two runs. Both runs were big ones, though. Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth, Hunter Mense scored on an error by Lincoln second baseman David Espinosa. Kansas City then took a 5-4 lead in the sixth when Conor Spink walked Mense with the bases loaded.
Game two of the series between Kansas City (43-39) and Lincoln (33-48) is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. on Wednesday. Tickets are available by calling the T-Bones box office at 913-328-5618.