Host Outlaws fend off MINK League North Division leaders 7-4, ending Mudcats' 8-games winning streak
JOPLIN, Mo. — The law of averages favored the eventual outcome of Saturday’s Chillicothe Mudcats vs. Joplin Outlaws MINK League baseball game.
The Mudcats entered possessing an 8-games winning streak – tied for second-longest in the organization’s 16-years history behind a twice-achieved 9-games stretch.
The host Outlaws toted a 7-games losing skid into the evening action at Joe Becker Stadium, including a 9-5 setback against the Mudcats the night before.
With Chillicothe experiencing another shoddy-control performance from a starting pitcher, the Outlaws established a quick 3-0 lead, grew it to 7-1 in the fourth inning, and rode strong-enough work by a trio of relief hurlers to terminate both streaks, 7-4.
The Fish fell one victory shy of the team record first accomplished from July 16-26, 2008 and matched from June 27-July 26, 2012.
This year’s Mudcats join three others of their predecessors who claimed 8-consecutive wins.
Following Joplin's 11-10 win Sunday evening and day off Monday, Chillicothe will swing back into action at home Tuesday night.
The defending league champions, the Sedalia Bombers, will pay a call for 7:05 p.m. action at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park stadium.
It is projected righthander Zack Mathes (1-1), fresh from serving a 3-games league suspension connected to his ejection from last Thursday’s home game against Clarinda, will make the start on the hill.
Saturday night’s streaks-snapper didn’t escape the Mudcats without a figurative fight.
Having overcome an early 8-runs deficit and late 6-runs gap against Clarinda last Thursday to draw even, neither the first-inning nor fourth-frame holes they were staring up out of versus Joplin seemed too daunting.
Although Chillicothe never made the score close, it did make the game close in each of the last two innings.
An unearned run posted in the third inning on Justin Blasinski’s sacrifice fly that scored Ramger Iglesias and a tally in the fifth set up by Kenny Jarema’s hit by pitch and plated by another Blasinski fly out had the guests down 7-2 going to the eighth.
Having had only one baserun-ner against Joplin relief pitcher Christian Cedeño the previous couple of innings, the Mudcats needed a spark. Cedeño gave it to them.
Opening the eighth, Blasinski became the third of four Fish hit batsmen. A balk then moved him to second. Following a tap out to short on which the baserunner advanced to third, Dawsen Bacho lifted a fly ball to right that scored Blasinski.
With two outs and none on, Chillicothe cranked up the pressure with back-to-back hits by Tanner Baker and pinch-hitter Chris Peres. Another substitute swinger, Kody Gardner, was plunked with a pitch and, with two outs, yet another pinch-hitter – Anthony Lantigua – stepped into the batter’s box representing the potential tying run in a park with reachable fences.
To address the situation of the righthanded-swinging pinch-hitter, Joplin head coach Danny Weaver lifted lefty Cedeño for righty Trenton Moeller.
After Moeller quickly got ahead on the count, a third 0-2 offering was smoked toward left field by Lantigua, seemingly sure to cut the lead to 7-4 and perhaps to 7-5. However, a diving catch of the line drive by shortstop Jeff Wetzler turned the would-be RBI hit into the third out and the Mudcats would face at least a 4-runs deficit when next they batted.
A 1-2-3 inning by Dan Naif kept Joplin right where it was in the eight and Chillicothe took one last stab at victory in the top of the ninth.
Facing a new reliever, righty Matthew Patton, a long, 1-out double to right-center field by Josh Urps, a 2-outs single by Bisenius, and an Outlaws error on what could have been a game-ending ground ball narrowed the gap to 7-4 and again put the potential tying run in the batter’s box in the person of Baker.
The Chillicothe outfielder took a pitch the other way for a single to left, loading the bases for Chris Cabral, who had come in at catcher in the eighth after Peres pinch-hit for starter Devonte Washington.
Representing the go-ahead run now, Cabral – in his first plate appearance of the game – took two pitches before bouncing a 1-1 Patton delivery to the first baseman for an easy out to end the game and both streaks.
Statistically, Chillicothe fell despite having twice as many hits (10-5) hits as Joplin. Both teams’ defenses could have been better as the Mudcats made four errors and the Outlaws three.
Individually, Baker finished three for five, while Urps – batting second for the first time, had two hits and a walk. Leadoff man Iglesias also had two hits and Blasinski two RBI.
On the hill, after starter Isaac Rubendall again was wobbly – yielding all seven runs, albeit only three earned, and walking six in his four innings.
After him, though, there was nearly-flawless work by Blake Collister and Naif. Before Naif had his uneventful eighth, Collister retired the first seven men he faced after coming on to start the fifth and escaped a bases-full, 1-out conundrum in the seventh by inducing a 5-3 double-play bouncer to Jarema.
With his latest sterling outing, Collister, the North Central Missouri College (Trenton) 2016-17 freshman and 2016 Keytesville High graduate, now has highly-creditable season totals of four runs allowed – three earned – in 11 total innings. He has struck out 12 in that time and walked only three. He’s given up no hits over five innings in his last two bullpen appearances.
For Joplin Saturday, catcher Matt DeLaVega’s three runs batted in keyed led the way. Cedeño earned the win.