Host Sedalia gets 7-2/3 innings of shutout relief from lefthander Jake Tolbert in Thursday, June 22, MINK League North Division win
SEDALIA, Mo. — A quick hook by Sedalia Bombers head coach Craig McAndrews made Thursday night’s MINK League game with the visiting Chillicothe Mudcats take a decisive “U” turn the Bombers’ way.
McAndrews pulled starting pitcher Blake Charlton, a school-year member of the University of Missouri Tigers, after the game’s first three batters were walked on 15 total pitches and, after allowing a 2-runs single to the first batter he faced, lefthanded reliever Jake Tolbert teased and thwarted Chillicothe scorelessly for the next 7-2/3 innings, paving the way for Sedalia to snap a 3-games losing streak with a 10-2 triumph at Liberty Park stadium.
Although Tolbert did allow seven hits, four walks, and a hit batsman in his stint, none of them crossed home plate, leaving the Mudcats (11-6, 7-6 MINK) to sustain their fourth defeat in the last five games.
Sedalia, which had lost both ends of a road doubleheader at Springfield by a run the night before, moved to 9-8 overall and in the league. It and Chillicothe are tied for second place in the league’s North Division behind rapidly-accelerating St. Joseph, which now leads both by 3-1/2 games.
Chillicothe could hardly have asked for a more-favorable start to Thursday’s contest.
When the three bases on balls were followed by cleanup hitter Bryce Bisenius, a lefthanded swinger, tagging lefty Tolbert for a single that plated Ramger Iglesias and Josh Urps, it led 2-0 with a great chance to add more before sending what it considers one of its best pitchers, righthander Chris Peres, to the mound for the first time in the game.
However, the Sedalia southpaw had other ideas.
Mixing his pitches well to keep Chillicothe batters off-balance and unable to consistently square the ball up, Tolbert used a strikeout, groundout, and fly out to choke off the Fish at only 2-0 in the opening half-inning.
Although they’d have plenty of baserunners the rest of the night, they would not score any of them, finishing with 14 left on base. That continues an unhealthy trend which mirrors their current downturn. In each of their four losses in the past five outings, they have left at least 10 runners aboard, with Thursday’s 14 a new high.
That might trigger an alteration in offensive attitude.
During a recent visit with the C-T, Chillicothe assistant coach for offense Ken Durling acknowledged that, while the team’s roster had been formulated with the idea of being able to manufacture runs with speed and aggressive baserunning – steals, hit-and-runs, taking an extra base on hits, the great success the offense had had simply by swinging the bat well had reduced the need for taking more risks on the basepaths.
“Just get guys on and let them hit him in,” Durling reflected on the adapted approach he’d taken through the first 15 games. “I don’t really have to do too much … to force the action.”
Now, with the outbreak of LOBs (runners left on base) as the clutch, run-producing hits have lessened – perhaps a reflection of opposing pitchers settling into better grooves as they get some summer innings under their belts, the original offensive concept might have to be utilized, at least to jump-start the offense again.
Armed with the immediate 2-0 lead, Peres – making his first start on the hill this summer after all of his previous starts had been as the first baseman or designated hitter – worked rather easily through the first two innings.
A 2-outs, run-scoring double by Bombers center fielder Cole Gray, who’d finish with three hits – including two doubles – and two runs batted in, got Sedalia on the scoreboard in the third.
With the Mudcats stalled, the hosts kept gnawing away, taking the lead in the fourth on .200-hitting Harrison Schnurbusch’s run-scoring triple and designated hitter Mitch Barrow’s RBI hit to right before adding single runs in the fifth and sixth.
Down 5-2 after six and having already left nine men aboard in the first five innings, the Mudcats again loaded the bases in the seventh, although that required a 2-outs hit by Kody Gardner and a walk to Christian Hoplock.
In what turned out to be the game’s climactic moment, Tolbert got pinch-hitter Anthony Lantigua – who has been used sparingly of late with a sore knee, according to the game broadcast – to also roll over a pitch and hit a ground ball that became the inning-ending out.
Not wanting to stretch Peres any farther, Jack Winters, Chillicothe’s head/pitching coach, went to his bullpen in the bottom of the seventh, asking recently-uneven closer Austin Gussman to keep the game at a 3-runs margin. He was unable to.
The first three men he faced reached on a walk and two singles. Following a full-count strikeout, he walked the next two batters without tossing a strike, forcing home two runs that made it 7-2.
Although ultimately it would not have made any difference, Gussman made a pitch that should have ended the inning, but the bases-full ground ball he induced resulted in only an out at third, rather than the double play it could have been. With an eighth run crossing the plate on that unmade defensive chance, Sedalia utilized two subsequent basehits to make it a 5-runs inning and put the victory on ice.
Statistically, Tolbert’s 7-2/3 shutout innings of relief were the game’s biggest numbers, helping create the other important figure – Chillicothe’s lofty left-on-base total.
Gray’s three hits were matched by Sedalia shortstop Kenny Pipper as those two accounted for half of their team’s dozen hits. Barrow equaled Gray’s two runs batted in while going one for two.
Chillicothe had a 3-hits night of its own from Bisenius, whose two runs batted in now give him 19 for the season. His batting average climbed to an even .400. All three of his hits came off the Bombers lefthander, against whom the rest of the lineup had only four hits in 24 plate appearances.
Peres (0-1) ended up allowing five runs – all earned –on eight hits and four walks.
Chillicothe is idle Friday before host MINK South leader Ozark for three games Saturday and Sunday.
At 7:05 p.m. Saturday at "June" Shaffer Memorial Park stadium, Fish lefthander Tyler Hansen again will seek his first win as he opposes the Generals.
Sunday, a 5:05 p.m. doubleheader at Shaffer Park is to see righthanders Parker Kirkpatrick and Isaac Rubendall take the hill as the starting hurlers in the 7-innings games against Ozark.