Host Griffons tie game in ninth on 2-outs walk, then win it on hit batsman Friday
NEVADA, Mo. — The Chillicothe Mudcats' unusually-light schedule over the past two weeks might well have caught up with them – at least temporarily – Friday night.
With big closer Adam Falcon getting into game action for only the second time in 13 nights and in his first save situation in that span, he was predictably rusty with his command as he took over a game the Mudcats led over the host Nevada Griffons.
Inheriting a 6-4 lead as he entered to start the bottom of the eighth inning, Falcon walked five batters, including .130-hitting Clint Wallace on a 3-2 pitch to force in the tying run with two outs in the ninth inning. A batter later, another 3-2 pitch to Marcus Ethen, who was making his first plate appearance of the season, missed inside – it ended up clipping Ethen – to force home the winning run as Nevada came back to win the MINK League clash 7-6.
Falcon (0-1) had not issued any bases on balls or allowed any runs in 8-2/3 previous innings over seven prior outings. Another tipoff of his being far off-kilter, likely due to lack of work, was that he struck out only one of the 12 Nevada batters he faced. He had entered with 14 strikeouts on the season.
Despite his struggles, he still deserved to have preserved the win and earned his fifth save, but could not overcome a critical defensive mishap behind him. A foul popup with one out in the ninth inning was missed by third baseman Nick Quejado, allowing Kurt Becker's at-bat to continue. Becker eventually worked a walk.
When the next batter flied out to short right field, it should have been the last out of a 6-5 Chillicothe win. Instead, Wallace – zero for four on the game until then to lower his season average to .130 – also waited out a walk, the call on a borderline full-count pitch going the home team's way to force home the tying run. When Falcon's wildness continued, Nevada (nuh-VAY-duh) got the come-from-behind win.
The loss – Chillicothe's second in a row – lowered the Mudcats' MINK League record to 12-9 in the MINK League and 13-9 overall. Nevada improved to 9-12 in the league and 12-12 overall.
The same two teams will meet again at Nevada's Lyons Field at 7 p.m. Saturday before the Mudcats, who slipped to 1-1/2 games behind North Division leader St. Joseph with Friday's defeat, return home to host the Ozark Generals in a 5:05 p.m. game Sunday.
Chillicothe had staged a comeback of its own last night to be in position for the win that got away.
After allowing single runs to the Griffons in the second and third innings, the Mudcats scored an unearned run in the fourth when Todd Czinege's ground-rule double scored Corban Williams. Chillicothe then scored another unearned run in the top of the fifth to tie it 2-2, but also missed an excellent chance to take a lead.
Nevada's Taylor Love pounded a home run off starting pitcher Mark Roberts in the bottom half of the fifth to put the hosts back in front, but only briefly.
Chillicothe blended five hits and a poor fielding decision by Nevada starting pitcher Rich Michaud into a 4-runs inning which gave it a 6-3 lead. Jarod Hahn's 2-runs double to the fence in right-center field gave the Mudcats their first lead. Singles by Reyn Sugai and Quejado tacked on extra runs, but Nevada relief pitcher Bryce Davis would cut them off right there. With 3-2/3 shutout innings, Davis (1-1) kept the Griffons in range and he ended up getting the victory.