SPRINGFIELD, Mo. • Exactly two weeks after standing 1-7 in MINK League play and being five games behind the Clarinda, Iowa, A's in the league's North Division standings, the college-level, wood-bat baseball Chillicothe Mudcats will take the field against the A's at their "June" Shaffer Memorial Park home tonight (Tuesday) a half-game back of the Iowans and with a chance to take over the division lead.
Last (Monday) night, the Mudcats made up a pair of rainouts the previous weekend in southwest Missouri by sweeping the Ozark Generals 13-5 and 9-6 at Springfield's Meador Park while Clarinda, working its way back toward home after a swing throughout Springifled and Joplin last week, was letting 1-run leads in both the ninth and 10th innings get away in a 6-5 loss at Sedalia.
Tonight's (Tuesday's) meeting between the Mudcats and A's in Chillicothe will begin at 7:05 p.m. Clarinda has won the first two meetings of the teams thus far in 2013, winning first at home and then at Shaffer Park June 10. Since that latter clash, Chillicothe was won 11 of 13 overall games and nine of 11 in the league. With now six victories in a row in a 4-days span, it owns a season-best 14-9 overall mark and, at 10-9, is over .500 in the league for the first time since taking the season opener over Sedalia.
Yesterday against Ozark, Mudcats bats could not be contained by Generals pitchers, producing 22 runs on 29 hits over 14 innings.
Chillicothe did it both with volume and quality, spraying 21 singles around the Meador Park diamond, but also blasting three balls out of the park and smacking a pair of 2-runs doubles among a handful of 2-baggers.
The Mudcats' onslaught began in earnest in the third inning of the opener when Hannibal's Paul Trenhaile (trenn-hayl) followed David Zorn's leadoff single and an infield error with a home run to dead-center field to produce the game's first three runs.
Ozark countered with a run in its third off Isaac Horigan (2-0), who would go the distance for the Fish, but by the time it would score again in the sixth, it was staring at a double-digits deficit.
The reason was a 9-runs top of the fifth by Chillicothe. Shellacking three different Generals hurlers during the blitz, the Mudcats put nine-straight men on base with eight hits and one hit batsmen after the inning's first batter was retired. Big blows included 2-runs singles by outfielders Tyler Langley and Zorn.
With the huge cushion, Horigan easily withstood pairs of Ozark runs in the sixth and seventh to preserve the Chillicothe bullpen for possible use in game two or on future days.
Trenhaile (trenn-hayl) finished game one four for five with four runs driven in and three scored. He also doubled in addition to his first Mudcats roundtripper.
Page 2 of 2 - Monday's finale also saw Chillicothe never face a deficit.
It got off to a quicker start as designated hitter Kevin Magill followed Zorn and Trenhaile singles with a 2-runs double in the top of the first.
Ozark nicked Mudcats starting and winning pitcher Collin Sherrod for an unearned run when a leadoff single got past an outfielder and sent the batter all the way to third, from where a fly ball scored him a batter later.
Chillicothe went right back to work on Generals starter Darrin Pittman for another couple of hits and runs in the second. Dane Fujinaka's leadoff double was followed two batters later by A.J. Hermanson's second home run of the year, making it 4-1.
The third inning produced another long-ball and two more tallies for the visitors when Derek Birginske, plotted to become a member of the team's starting-pitching rotation soon, took advantage of a rare start in right field to rip a shot off the scoreboard in left-center field following a walk to Sam Moon. Birginske, from Arkansas State University and Russellville, Ark., now has two home runs and seven runs batted in and a .471 batting average in only 17 official at-bats this season.
Ozark inched within 6-3 with a marker in its third, but Chillicothe altered its 2-runs-an-inning pattern to put up three in response. Magill earned his third RBI of the night with a bases-full sacrifice fly before Alex Gutierrez ripped a double to plate Hermanson and Trenhaile. After a deep, week-long slump, Gutierrez had four hits in the doubleheader and his 2-runs double allowed him to reclaim sole possession of the team RBIs lead with 16. Hermanson's earlier homer had given him 14 driven in.
Up 9-2 at the 7-innings game's mid-point, the Mudcats eased back on the throttle, quieted by the last of four Ozark pitchers, Brady Colbert.
After Sherrod gave up two runs in the sixth, he departed and Mark Roberts mopped up, allowing three hits and a couple more runs in the seventh as the Generals refused to surrender, but still eventually fell.
For the night, Truman State's Trennhaile finished six of eight at the plate with the four first-game RBIs and five runs scored. He hiked his batting average to a team-best .443 among the regulars.
Birginske, who pinch-hit late in the opener, wound up the evening three for six at the dish with three RBIs, a homer and double, and two runs scored.
Langley and Kyler Offenbacker each had 3-hits games in the opener, Langley having entered only four of 22 for the season. Gutierrez finished with a 4-for-9 night.
Ozark's outstanding infielder Rob Prieto was a shining light on an otherwise bleak night for his team, going six for seven, including a 4-for-4 with two runs scored nightcap. After hitting into a double play in his first at-bat of the night, he reached safely on each of his last seven plate appearances.