MINK League baseball North leader capitalizes on Chillicothe walks, errors in 10-3 triumph Wednesday

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — As Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats head/pitching coach Jack Winters returns from a 5-games suspension to in-game, on-field oversight Thursday night at Sedalia, he does so after seeing some continuing, perplexing performance issues from a different vantage point. Now the question is “Can he correct them?” as he gets back in the dugout.
A team whose roster construction Winters oversaw last fall and winter with an eye toward attracting good pitching talent and a solid group of fielders to support it continued to lag in those two areas Wednesday and one of the top teams in the MINK League college-level summer baseball loop exploited those shortcomings.
With Mudcats starting pitcher Matt Herman handing out bases on balls to the first St. Joseph Mustangs batter of the inning in each of the first three frames, the Ponies generated nine baserunners and five runs in the first third of the game and coasted on to a 10-3 home triumph at Phil Welch Stadium.
St. Joseph (18-5, 13-5 MINK) scored four runs in the second to put early heat on, then responded to Chillicothe edging within 5-3 with two runs in the top of the seventh by dropping a 5-runs hammer of the Fish in the home half.
The decisive defeat was the Mudcats’ third in their last four contests – all played with Winters tethered to the press box during the game as a consequence of his suspension – and dropped them to 11-5 overall and 7-5 in the league.
Chillicothe’s first-year head coach will be allowed to return to the dugout and field for tonight’s (Thursday, June 22) 7 o’clock league game at Sedalia’s Liberty Park.
The host Bombers won’t be feeling too good about themselves either, having followed Tuesday’s 1-run loss in Chillicothe with two more at Springfield against league foe Ozark Wednesday. After dropping the opener 5-4, Sedalia was within an out of gaining the split after scoring twice in the top of the seventh to lead 5-4 when a hit batter, a game-tying single, and a walkoff double gave the host Generals the sweep.
As a result, Sedalia enters Wednesday’s action 8-8 overall and in the league and a game back of second-place Chillicothe in the MINK North.
The Mudcats plan to give righthander Chris Peres – seemingly one of their better hurlers, but also their leading hitter, average-wise – his first start of the season on the mound at Sedalia.
Although he has worked exclusively out of the bullpen thus far, the La Verne University player twice has worked 4-1/3 innings in relief – most recently a week ago, so he should have the potential to give the Mudcats at least five innings, if effective and efficient tonight.
Wednesday’s Chillicothe game at St. Joseph turned decisively the host Mustangs’ way when leadoff man Brody Santilli stroked the first of his two 2-runs singles to start the scoring in the second inning.
When a single and double followed, St. Joseph starting pitcher Osvaldo Raya had a nice margin to work with.
The visitors got on the board in their third on singles by Kenny Jarema and Josh Urps and the first of Justin Blasinski’s two sacrifice flies, but the Mustangs again used a leadoff walk in their third to offset that run.
Raya took the 5-1 lead into the seventh when his string ran out.
A tough error on Jarema’s bid for a hit up the middle was followed by a Ramger Iglesias single, prompting St. Joseph manager Matt Johnson to replace his starting hurler with Nikko Pablo.
The switch largely paid off, although Pablo was not able to prevent the two baserunners he inherited from scoring and making it a 5-3 game. After a sacrifice bunt by Urps, Blasinski’s fly to center allowed Jarema to score a second time and Iglesias to zip to third, from where he scored on Bryce Bisenius’ 2-outs hit.
Once on his own, Pablo shut out the Mudcats, earning a save by going three full innings in relief and having no runs charged against him. He allowed two hits. Raya still gained the win.
After Chillicothe drew within two, it pounced on a Mudcat error to score five runs off relievers Blake Collister and Trevor Maly in the bottom of the seventh.
Collister, who had bailed starter and loser Herman (1-1) out of a 2-on, 0-outs jam in the sixth, was tagged for a single and Louis Mele’s misplayed RBI double to left-center field to start the seventh.
An error by Urps at shortstop let Mele score and a single led to Colliver’s removal, although – with good fielding behind him – the righthander from Trenton’s North Central Missouri College could have been in a 2-outs, 2-on, none-in situation with the score still 5-3 at that juncture.
Maly was greeted by a RBI single and, after getting the next two batters, yielded Santilli’s second 2-runs single to put the game out of reach at 10-3.
Statistically, St. Joseph only out-hit Chillicothe 11-9, but its two pitchers issued only three walks, while its batters accepted six – all from Herman.
While Santilli led the Mustangs’ attack from his leadoff spot, the Mudcats had another 3-hits performance by Peres as he handled first base and raised his season batting average to a league-leading .479.