CHILLICOTHE • The MINK League North Division-leading Clarinda, Iowa, A's continue to stand in the Chillicothe Mudcats' way.
The division leaders avoided being displaced from the top perch by the Mudcats Tuesday night, twice thwarting Chillicothe's bid for a fourth walkoff victory in its last four home dates to claim a 6-4, 11-innings victory.
After the home team countered a Clarinda ninth-inning run with one in the bottom half, but left the potential winner at second base.
Beaten in 10 innings at Sedalia the night before after scoring once in the top of the 10th, the A's this time put up three in the top of the 10th to go in front 6-3. However, Chillicothe didn't go quietly in the bottom half, pairing one hit with three walks to get the potential tying run into scoring position before a groundout ended it.
Clarinda, which would trail the Mudcats in the league standings if it was not a perfect 3-0 against the Fish this summer, improved to 14-8 overall and 11-8 in the MINK North as the league season nears its midpoint. The Mudcats, who had won six straight over the previous four nights, fell back to .500 in the league at 10-10, tied with St. Joseph for second place, 1-1/2 games behind the Iowans. Chillicothe stands 14-10 overall.
The same two teams will rematch Wednesday night at 7 o'clock, this time in southern Iowa. Chillicothe is expected to start Grayson Pratt, a righthander with a 2-0 record. His second win came Sunday in a relatively-short relief stint in a 3-2 victory over St. Joseph.
Clarinda was never behind in Tuesday's game at "June" Shaffer Memorial Park stadium in Chillicothe.
It tallied once each in the second and third innings, but a missed chance to widen its lead in the fifth gave the Mudcats an opening and they exploited it.
In the home fifth, a 1-out hit batsman, a fielding error, a 2-outs RBI single by David Zorn, and a run-scoring wild pitch allowed Chillicothe to draw even. It could not get the lead run home from third, however.
With reliever Brock Downey, who had entered with the bases full and one out in the fifth and thrown a double-play ball to deny the A's, controlling the Clarinda bats in the sixth, seventh, and eighth, the Mudcats offense had a chance to reward him with a win.
They put the leadoff man on with a hit in the seventh, but never advanced him. In the eighth, A.J. Hermanson's double to deep left with two outs was wasted. Then, in the ninth, after pinch-hitters Austin Bello and Paul Trenhaile (trenn-hayl) doubled and singled respectively, with two out to square things again at 3-3, Trenhaile (trenn-hayl) was left at second.
Page 2 of 2 - Even in the home 10th, after a clearly-fatigued Downey yielded the three runs, one more well-timed or well-placed hit could have taken him off the hook or made him a winner for a second time in four days, but it didn't happen.