CHILLICOTHE ♦ The Chillicothe Mudcats college-level, wood-bat baseball team closed the first month of its 2013 season in strong fashion Sunday, completing a season sweep of MINK League South Division foe Ozark with a 6-4 victory at Chillicothe's "June" Shaffer Memorial Park stadium.
Behind 3-0 after five innings, the Mudcats put their first four batters of the sixth on base, tying the game in lightning-like fashion, and went on to score five runs in the inning to set up their 18th overall victory of the season and 14th in league play. They have won eight of their last 10 games, the league's best mark in that stretch.
Now 14-11 in the league after playing 29 times total during June, Chillicothe enters today's day off once more in sole possession of second place in the MINK's North Division, one game behind leader Clarinda, Iowa (14-9). Those two teams will meet Tuesday in southern Iowa. Before then, Clarinda will host third-place St. Joseph, which it leads by only two games, on Monday night (tonight).
Yesterday's game began to swing the home team's way when, down three, the Mudcats' Trevor Jones drew a leadoff walk to begin the bottom of the sixth. Nathan Lukes (LOO-kuss) pushed a fine bunt down the third-base line and had the play at first beaten when the pitcher's throw there sailed to the foul side of the base behind Lukes (LOO-kuss) and down the right-field line in foul territory, allowing both Mudcats to pick up an extra base.
That brought up one of the team's best and hottest hitters, Hannibal's Paul Trenhaile (trenn-hayl). He immediately spanked a double into the right-field corner to cut the Mudcats' deficit to 3-2 with no outs, knocking out Ozark starting pitcher Josh Neufeld in the process. The Generals left-hander had shut Chillicothe out on three hits the first five innings.
Reliever Darren Pittman, another lefty, was greeted by Kevin Magill's RBI single to right-center field, tying the score at 3-3. Two batters later, pinch-runner David Zorn stole second and dashed home on Reyn Sugai's (renn soo-GIGHZ) ground-ball single to right, putting the Mudcats in front. Tyler Langley then tagged Pittman for a triple into the right-field corner and it had been a 5-runs Chillicothe sixth.
Using two errors, the Generals got their fourth and final run off Mudcats starter and winner Vin Roth (3-0) in the top of the seventh, but the hosts got that right back. Lukes (LOO-kuss) walked with one down and Trenhaile (trenn-hayl) hiked his season average to a scorching .472 with a booming triple to deep right-center field. His third RBI of the day increased his season total to 15, one behind team leader Jake Gutierrez (goo-tee-AYR-ezz) and left him only a home shy of a "natural cycle" – a single, double, triple, and home, in that order. He did not come to bat again the rest of the game, though.
Page 2 of 2 - Trenhaile's (trenn-haylz) Truman State University teammate Mark Roberts took over from Roth with two outs and a man at first in the top of the eighth after the starter had reached 105 pitches thrown on the evening. Roberts got the last out of the eighth and then pitched around a 1-out single in the ninth, striking out Ozark's best hitter, Rob Prieto (PREE-toh), representing the tying run, to end it. For Roberts, it was his team-high third save.
In addition to Trenhaile's (trenn-haylz) big game at bat, Langley and Magill each had two hits as the Mudcats out-hit Ozark 9-6.
Neither team had reason to be proud of their defense in the late-afternoon/early-evening contest. Chillicothe was guilty of five errors and Ozark three. Two of the Generals' four runs were unearned, but all of the Mudcats' were earned.