Reliever allows run in ninth, but gets team-high fifth save as Chillicothe prevails 5-4 on road.
NEVADA, Mo. — Back at the site of his meltdown last Friday, Chillicothe Mudcats closer Adam Falcon flirted with a similar fate Tuesday night, but ultimately got the job of preserving the team's third-consecutive win done as the Mudcats edged the Nevada Griffons 5-4 in MINK League action.
With a 2-runs, 2-outs Chillicothe rally having snapped a 3-3 tie in the top of the eighth inning, Falcon relieved winner Derringer Huff (2-1) to start the bottom of the ninth. He caught the first batter looking at strike three, but then allowed a scratch hit and a hot-shot double that ate up first baseman Todd Czinege to put the potential tying run in scoring position.
Falcon then put the potential winning run on base with a walk before getting a fly ball to center field that scored one run, but also provided the second out of the ninth. He then got a popup to shortstop Josh Ethier in short left field to notch his fifth save of the season.
Chillicothe's win boosted its league record to 13-10 and edged it back to within one game of MINK League North Division leader St. Joseph, which was idle yesterday.
The Mudcats, 16-10 overall now, will travel to Clarinda, Iowa, for a 7 p.m. game with the A's tonight.
Chillicothe never trailed in last night's contest, snapping a scoreless deadlock with a 3-runs fifth and then stringing together a series of great at-bats with two outs in the eighth to reclaim the lead after Nevada tied it in the sixth.
The Mudcats got five hits in a row in the eighth, but only the last four figured into the winning rally.
Corban Williams' 1-out single went for nought when he was thrown out stealing for the second out, but Chillicothe didn't hang its head.
Czinege re-started the charge with a sharp single to center and Derek Nakasato dribbled one into the hole on the right side for an infield hit.
Al Robbins then spanked an opposite-field single to left off Nevada reliever Chad Worman and Czinege churned around third to beat the throw to the plate. That gave the Mudcats back the lead at 4-3.
Wisely, they didn't stop there.
Dane Fujinaka blooped a pop fly down the right field line, where the ball fell just out of the reach of the second baseman and right fielder inside the chalk. Nakasato scored easily on the bloop double, making it a 2-runs Chillicothe lead.
That was the same margin they entrusted to closer Falcon in the eighth inning of last Friday's game and it wasn't enough.
This time, Huff – who had come on to get the last out of the seventh, stranding the bases loaded by getting a come backer – tossed a scoreless eighth before Falcon got the call and eventually did the job.
The Mudcats broke on top in the game by capitalizing on an error in the fifth.
Jeffery Butler, the newest Mudcat, reached on a 1-out error and scampered to third as Reyn Sugai singled. Sugai slipped down to second as the throw went to third trying to get Butler.
Josh Ethier of Chillicothe fought off one 0-2 pitch before smacking a double to right, driving home both runners with the game's first tallies.
Corban Williams followed with a third-straight Mudcats hit, a single that sent Ethier home with a 3-0 Chillicothe lead.
Mudcats starting pitcher Mike Klein finally hit a rough patch in the sixth after checking the Griffons on no runs and three hits in the first five innings.
The righthander from the University of Nebraska walked the first man in the sixth, then allowed a bunt single and another single as Nevada got on the scoreboard with its first run. A sacrifice fly made it 3-2 and ended Klein's night and an RBI single by Daniel Midyett off reliever Austin Kerns tied it 3-3 after six.
Statistically, led by 2-hits games from Fujinaka, C. Williams, Ethier, and Nakasato, Chillicothe out-hit Nevada 11-9.