JOPLIN, Mo. — The Saltdogs (14-26) squandered another strong outing as the Joplin Blasters (24-14) came back to take the series opener 6-4 in front of 1,528 fans at Joe Becker Stadium Friday night.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, Joplin rallied for five runs and five hits against the Saltdogs bullpen after Shairon Martis pitched six innings, allowing one run on four hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
Curt Smith crushed a two-run homer in the ninth to cut the deficit to 6-4 before a Brian Joynt fly out near the warning track ended the game.
Sam Agnew-Wieland (3-0) pitched 1 2/3 perfect innings of relief with two strikeouts to book the win. Conor Spink (3-4) allowed three runs in 1/3 of an inning to take the loss.
Joplin walked eight Lincoln batters and committed two errors but the ‘Dogs were only able to get one run from the 10 free base runners.
Martis has allowed just two runs over his last 20 innings but has just one win for his efforts.
Aaron Payne belted a two-run homer with two outs in the top of the fourth to give the Saltdogs a 2-1 lead.
The Saltdogs have blown leads in the ninth, eighth and seventh in three consecutive losses to Joplin dating back to June 20 at Haymarket Park.
Game two of the three-game series is Saturday night at 6:35 p.m on the 4th of July. Radio coverage begins at 6:05 p.m. on KFOR FM 103.3/1240 AM.