Sunday MINK League game went to Outlaws 11-10 after five lead changes. Fish sink to 10-4 overall, 6-4 in league before open date Monday
JOPLIN, Mo. — Three Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats pitchers heeded the pre-game call from Jack Winters, their head coach/pitching coach, to throw more strikes Sunday. The results weren’t exactly as desired, though.
While throwing a higher quantity of pitches in the strike zone – to the degree that they issued only one total walk, starter Steven Acosta and relievers Nate Wenson and Jerald Johnston left enough of those deliveries in hittable parts of the zone, resulting in 16 Joplin (Mo.) Outlaws hits and an 11-10 Outlaws home win in college-level, wood-bat summer baseball.
The MINK League setback was Chillicothe’s second in as many nights to the southwest Missouri team which had previously lost seven in a row. It marked the first time in 2017 the Mudcats )10-4, 6-4 MINK) had sustained consecutive defeats.
Sunday’s game, which was begun at 5 p.m. – contrary to its listing on the Mudcats schedule as a 7 p.m. affair, saw the teams swap the lead multiple times. Each scored in each of the first four frames before a 3-runs Joplin fifth after Chillicothe was blanked in its half spelled the difference.
The Mudcats led 1-0 in the first, 2-1 in the second, 5-3 in the third, and then 7-6 in the fourth, but could never sustain their advantage through the bottom half of those segments.
The Outlaws, freed from their extended losing streak by the previous night’s triumph over their Fish guests, reclaimed the lead at 8-7 on Calem Nutting’s long blast over the fence in right field in the home fourth.
The three more they plated in the fifth – giving them four consecutive multiple-runs innings – would wind up as the ultimate difference.
Starter Acosta was lifted after allowing nine hits and six runs – five earned – through three innings. First reliever Wenson (0-1) then went from in line for the victory when he entered, courtesy of Justin Blasinski’s game-tying second home run of the season in the top of the fourth and Josh Urps’ 2-outs, tiebreaking single to being the loser when Nutting clubbed his 2-runs blast in Wenson’s first inning of work.
The bullpenner then was sabotaged by his defense in the fifth as two errors by inexperienced first baseman Bryce Bisenius paved the way to three runs, expanding Chillicothe’s deficit to 11-7.
On a day when Mudcats batters banged ou 15 hits themselves – one less than Joplin’s total, that 4-runs margin proved to be just enough.
Chillicothe tried to scratch its way back even, but failed to post crooked numbers when it generated opportunities in the sixth and seven innings.
In the sixth, with a run already home on the third of Chris Peres’ four singles, Chillicothe had a first-and-third, 1-out situation. Instead of closing to within a run at 11-10, however, Urps’ sharply-hit ball was gloved by winning pitcher Justice Hylton and turned into an inning-ending 1-6-3 twin killing.
In the seventh, the first three Mudcats batters reached softly – on a walk, a bad throw to first on a sacrifice bunt, and a base hit on a would-be sacrifice bunt.
With the potential tying run at second base, none out, and its Nos. 3-5 men in the batting order waiting to take hacks, the Mudcats looked primed for another comeback win.
It didn’t happen.
Lefthander Hylton was replaced by righty Hunter Wienhoff, who got a forceout grounder to shortstop that nearly was another double play. When it wasn’t, however, thanks to Anthony Lantigua’s sprint down the first-base line, the Fish were within 11-10 and had the tying run at third and potential lead run at first with their top run producer thus far, Blasinski, stepping in.
The lefthanded batter engaged in a 7-pitches duel with Wienhoff, but the hurler finally won out with a strikeout on a 3-2 delivery. He then caught cleanup man Bryce Bisenius, another lefthanded hitter, to watch a third strike go past, keeping Joplin in front by a scant tally.
Chillicothe never overcame that small difference. After Wienhoff worked a 1-hit eighth – not letting the lone runner get past first, Trenton Moeller went through the top third of the Mudcats lineup easily in the ninth for the save.
Statistically, the game’s most notable category unquestionably was runners left aboard. The Fish stranded a dozen to only five by the host Bandits.
Wenson sustained the loss by allowing five runs on four hits in three innings, but could have had a better fate with less-leaky defense behind him. Although he gave up three of Joplin’s 16 hits in his two innings, Johnston managed to keep all three from scoring, continuing his effective work this season.
Offensively, Peres’ 4-for-5 day included a run batted in. Two-hits days were enjoyed by Tanner Baker, Kody Gardner, Bisenius, and Lantigua with the latter matching Blasinski’s two RBI.
Joplin’s attack was paced by Nutting’s three hits and three driven in. Kyler Cook also had three hits and a RBI, while Grant McDaniel and Kaleb DeLaTorre each had two hits and two runs batted in. Matt DeLaVega and Jeff Wetzler also had two hits.
Joplin had five extra-base hits, including a DeLaTorre home run; Chillicothe had three.
Following an open date Monday, the Mudcats will be back at home Tuesday to host the league’s 2016 champion, the Sedalia Bombers, in a 7:05 p.m. game at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park stadium. It will be the two North Division clubs’ first meeting this summer.
Sedalia is 7-5 overall and in the league thus far, having been rained out of a scheduled game at Nevada Sunday. With Monday left open as a “rain date” by all league teams, it is possible that the Bombers might make up that postponement Monday beforc visiting the Mudcats the next night.
Speaking of making up rainouts, Chillicothe’s only full-fledged rainout thus far – its June 4 contest at Jefferson City that was scrubbed after one inning – will be replayed in its entirety, but, by mutual consent, in Chillicothe, not Jefferson City, as part of a doubleheader on June 30, Doug Doughty, Mudcats general manager, has disclosed.
Since that had not yet reached “official” game (at least five innings played), it will be start all over again, in contrast to last week’s game against Clarinda that was halted by weather in the ninth inning. The more-recent game is suspended and will be picked up at the point it was stopped at a to-be-announced date