Host Mudcats take 4-2, 3-2 MINK League victories July 6 when Omaha team self-immolates late in both games.
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — After Sunday (july 6, 2014) evening's MINK League baseball doubleheader with the Chillicothe Mudcats, the Omaha Diamond Spirit's team bus likely was quiet as a graveyard or as combative as Reggie Jackson-"Blue Moon" Odom-Gene Tenace-Billy North clubhouse of the early 1970s world championship Oakland A's teams. Either way, the 4-hours trip home had to seem much longer than usual after what happened to the Nebraskans at Chillicothe's "June" Shaffer Memorial Park.
The college-level summer baseball twinbill saw the host Mudcats heaving huge sighs of relief after each win, gaining a second sweep of the Diamond Spirit this summer with triumphs by scores of 4-2 and 3-2.
The first game saw the Omaha team awaken from a 4-0 deficit after five innings to get six consecutive hits to start the sixth inning. However, with atrocious base running for the situation, the visitors managed to get only two runs out of that inning – having one man picked off and losing another at home plate for the second out. Not until relief pitcher Adam Falcon entered to retired the seventh and final hitter of the inning did the Mudcats retire a batter, forcing Omaha to strand two by doing so.
Then, in the seventh, the Diamond Spirit loaded the bases with one out, putting the potential tying run in scoring position, only to see the next two batters pop up to give Falcon his sixth save of the season and the Mudcats the shaky victory.
The ending of game two proved even more unnerving to the Nebraska team.
After getting a dramatic, full-count, game-tying single fro pinch-hitter Max Carter with two outs in the top of the seventh, the Omahans handed the game to Chillicothe on a silver platter with the Mudcats getting the ball out of the infield.
A leadoff, 4-pitch walk to Jeffery Butler was followed by a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt. Pitcher Dylan Steyer, younger brother of Diamond Spirit head coach and 2009-10 Mudcats skipper Adam Steyer, battled back to get a popup to the shortstop for the second out.
He then induced Jarod Hahn, Chillicothe's top runs producer for the season thus far, to lift another popup on the infield, seemingly certain to send the game to extra innings. However, as the third baseman came in to handle the play about 15-20 feet from home plate, the ball incredibly went in and out of his glove and down to the grass. With Hahn having disgustedly trotted down the line to first, expecting the worst, and Butler having made what he figured to be the fruitless journey down the line to the plate, the Diamond Spirit had self-destructed again.
The pair of Chillicothe victories jumped the Mudcats' league record up to 16-11, but they had to settle for gaining only a half-game in the MINK's North Division standings. North leader St. Joseph scored twice in the top of the eighth inning at Clarinda, Iowa, to edge the host A's 11-10 in a see-saw slugfest.
By winning, St. Joseph's Mustangs moved to 19-9 in the league, still 2-1/2 games ahead of the Mudcats.
Overall, the Chillicothe team improved to 19-11 with its fifth and sixth wins in the past seven games.
The Mudcats will have the second of back-to-back doubleheaders Monday evening at Springfield when they make up a mid-June rainout with the Ozark Generals. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. at southwest Springfield's Barnhouse Field.