JOPLIN — Entering Monday's play in the American Association, Joplin Blasters outfielder Willie Cabrera led the league with 36 RBI, three ahead of Sioux City's Noah Perio.

JOPLIN — Entering Monday's play in the American Association, Joplin Blasters outfielder Willie Cabrera led the league with 36 RBI, three ahead of Sioux City's Noah Perio.
Over the three-game weekend series against the Sioux Falls Canaries at Joe Becker Stadium, Cabrera increased his batting average 22 points overall and 27 points the final two games from .276 to .271 to .298 and drove in seven runs, highlighted by his game-winning three-run home run and five RBI Sunday as the Blasters rallied late for a thrilling 9-7 win on Father's Day.
Over the first 30 games this season, Cabrera's hitting .298 (34 for 114) with seven doubles, five home runs and 36 RBI.
On Sunday, the Blasters dug themselves a 7-1 hole after 2 1/2 innings, as the Canaries scored five runs in the first and two in the third.
The Blasters engineered their comeback with five in the fifth and three in the eighth, all three coming on Cabrera's towering home run to left.
In the fifth, Oscar Mesa hit a leadoff double, one that fell between multiple Canaries — infielders and outfielders alike — in the outfield and Geraldo Valentin's one-out single placed runners at the corners. That's when Cabrera took Mathew Bywater's 2-0 pitch and delivered a two-run double scoring Mesa and Valentin.
Charlie Valerio and Juan Medina worked walks to load the bases with Blasters and then, making his Blasters debut at first base, Bobby Webb delivered his first hit with his new team, a two-run double scoring Cabrera and Valerio.
The score remained 7-6 Sioux Falls until the bottom of the eighth.
The Blasters took advantage of new Sioux Falls reliever Billy Waltrip, who came on for Kris Regas, who spelled Bywater in the fifth.
Jesus Solorzano took a four-pitch walk leading off against Waltrip and Mesa bunted Solorzano into scoring position with a ball fielded by Waltrip that nearly placed two runners aboard with no outs.
Mitch Glasser worked a walk and Valentin struck out mightily, setting the stage for Cabrera, who gave the Blasters the lead with one crack of the bat.
Joplin ace relievers Victor Capellan and Winston Abreu took care of the rest, with Capellan and Abreu tossing scoreless eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Additionally, Keith Picht tossed a scoreless seventh, after Blasters starter Patrick Mincey's workmanlike seven runs allowed on nine hits over six innings.
Capellan retired the Canaries in order in the eighth, highlighted by consecutive strikeouts of Michael Pair and Aaron Owen. Ethan Chapman grounded out to first to end the inning.
In the ninth, Canaries shortstop Blake Schmit hit a leadoff single against Abreu and advanced to second on a passed ball. Abreu fielded his position and recorded the first two outs on grounders by Ozney Guillen and former Blaster Jake Taylor. Abreu then struck out David Bergin on four pitches to end the game and give the Blasters a final 2-1 series edge.
Bergin hit the big three-run home run in the first, an inning that also included Taylor's RBI single and Pair's solo home run.
Mesa hit a leadoff double in the Blasters first and scored on a fielder's choice.
Lashley knocked a two-run home run in the Canaries third and Mesa's second leadoff double in the first three innings led to his second run scored in the third.
Mesa collected four hits to lead the Blasters' 11-hit attack, highlighted by three doubles, and he crossed home plate for 33.3 percent of the team's runs. Cabrera's two-run double and three-run homer were his lone hits of the contest. Valerio added two hits, while Valentin and Webb each drove in two runs; conspiracy theorists take note, Webb played for the Roswell Invaders of the Pecos League. Mesa, Glasser and Cabrera each stole bases against the Canaries' battery.
Taylor, who played both his collegiate and professional baseball at Joe Becker for Missouri Southern and then the Blasters, collected four hits (all singles) and scored two runs from the No. 3 spot in the Canaries order. Taylor's performance Sunday raised his batting average above the Mendoza Line, from .188 to .245.
Six of the seven Canary runs scored in the game originated from three homers.
Joplin improved to 12-18 on the season, still in last place in the South Division.