Three DPs, Robbins' 2-outs RBI double in sixth help Fish win
JOPLIN, Mo. — Timely defensive support allowed Cody Maerz to throw a complete-game shutout and Al Robbins doubled in the game's decisive run and then scored an insurance tally in the sixth inning Friday night as the Chillicothe Mudcats earned a split of their 2-games series at Joplin, shutting out the Outlaws 2-0.
Maerz (1-2) threw double-play grounders in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, deftly working around three Mudcats errors to produce the team's first route-going shutout of the season. Two previous Chillicothe whitewashes in the season's first couple of weeks had seen the starters give way to the bullpen in the late innings.
Friday's victory moved the Mudcats back above .500 in the MINK League at 7-6. That has them one game behind the St. Joseph Mustangs, who also won Friday, in the North Division standings.
Overall, Chillicothe now is 8-6 heading into Saturday's 5 p.m. contest at Bolivar against the Branson Nationals. Branson split a Friday home doubleheader with Clarinda, Iowa.
After the first of the three Chillicothe twin-killings erased an inning-opening error in the bottom of the fifth of a 0-0 game, the Mudcats sprung to life with two outs in their sixth.
Derek Nakasato singled and dashed all the way around on Robbins' double – his second-straight hit. Robbins then scored from second on Anthony Bayus' basehit to make it 2-0, Chillicothe.
Maerz then deleted 1-out singles in both the Joplin sixth and seventh by getting grounders to the left side that became inning-ending D-Ps. A 2-outs double in the eighth in a 2-0 game didn't prompt Chillicothe head coach Tai Mitchell to go to the bullpen and Maerz rewarded the faith by getting a fly out to end the inning.
In the ninth, even an inning-opening error didn't unnerve Maerz or shake Mitchell's belief in his starter. He got the first out, then caught a huge break on a 1-out single to right when Joplin's lead runner Chris Scroggins tried to go first-to-third on the hit and was thrown out by right fielder Norry Galjour for the second out.
Reprieved, Maerz was given one chance to finish it and he did, inducing a groundout to second to get the complete-game donut.
Maerz allowed seven hits, but walked only one. He did not strike out a single batter.
Offensively, Robbins, from South Dakota State and West Chicago, was the hero with his two hits, RBI, and run scored.
Chillicothe out-hit Joplin 9-7, but continued to have trouble generating runs. The Mudcats have only five runs total in their last three games and have scored three or fewer runs in six of their last eight outings. They've scored three runs or less in eight of their 14 games to date, but their pitchers have held opponents to three or less runs six times in those 14 contests.
Friday's shutout win was Chillicothe's third of the year, a pace which would challenge the team record of eight in the team's league-championship year of 2009. Last year's Fish threw only one shutout.