Free bases on walks, errors help Ozark cruise in MINK League college-level summer baseball in Chillicothe Saturday

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
Although exact data hasn’t been extracted from team records, one of the ugliest 3-games stretches in the Chillicothe Mudcats’ 16-years history of college-level, wood-bat baseball wrote a dismal final chapter Saturday night.
The 2017 Mudcats, who reached the 10-victories plateau in as few games (12) as any of their 15 predecessors, bared their most-consistent shortcomings of the season’s first three weeks – poor starting pitching and faulty routine-play defense – Saturday night as they were demoted to .500 in MINK League play by the Ozark Generals, the league’s defending South Division champions and current division leaders, 13-3.
It was the third game in a row Chillicothe had allowed at least 10 runs and lost by at least seven.
The Mudcats hope to end that run of futility tonight (Sunday, June 25) when they host Ozark again, this time in a 5:05 p.m. doubleheader, before hosting North Division-leading St. Joseph in a 7:05 p.m. game at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park stadium Monday evening.
Less than half (six) of the Ozark runs off starter Tyler Hansen and relievers Blake Collister and Nate Wenson were earned, but, for Hansen and Wenson, some or all of the damage they incurred was largely of their own fault.
Continuing his inability to consistently thrown strikes, despite his head/pitching coach’s lofty expectations, lefthander Hansen (0-1) lasted only 2-2/3 innings in his fourth start, being responsible for six runs – three earned.
While better defense could have aided him by lessening the damage and likely allowed him to go deeper into the contest, the  Snowflake, Ariz., product owned more responsibility for his demise than anyone. He walked or hit more batters (nine) than he got out (eight) and tossed in a wild pitch to boot, as well as allowing a pair of hits.
After Collister allowed the first batter he faced after replacing Hansen with the bases full and two outs in the third to single home two runs, the young righthander from neighboring Chariton County shut out the Generals over the next four innings to keep the team’s hopes of a rally afloat.
However, after the Fish had closed the gap to 6-3 in the sixth, consecutive errors on simple plays to start the Ozark eighth opened the door for the Generals to pour over seven runs against Collister and Wenson and put the game out of sight.
While Collister allowed no runs in his first 4-1/3 innings before being undermined by his fielders and then fading and ultimately being charged with five runs, Wenson gave up run-scoring hits to the first three batters he faced before setting down six of the last seven, including strikeouts of the last four. While technically, in team scoring, neither of the runs charged to Wenson was earned, individually, both tallies he yielded were without the aid of errors or misplays.
The seventh-inning parade of runs by the visitors eliminated any hope of a late-innings comeback by Chillicothe, which has done a good job of battling back
It appeared just such a come-from-behind scenario might be unfolding when the home team – having scored twice in the third on a hit-batsman and walk with the bases loaded – got Jarema’s clutch, 2-outs single to close within 6-3 after six and Anthony Lantigua drew a walk and stole second with one out in the seventh.
However, with hot-hitting Bryce Bisenius and his batting average of just under .400 and second-leading (on the team) runs batted in total in the lefthanded batter’s box, Lantigua broke for third base as the Generals catcher started to throw the ball back to the pitcher after a pitch. The Ozark receiver saw the runner take off just before his would-be release of the ball and held onto it. He then pegged it to his third baseman, whose tag easily retired the Chillicothe baserunner for the second out of the inning. A pitch later, Bisenius ripped a double inside the first-base line, a blow which would have scored Lantigua from second without a play, cut the margin to 6-4, had a possible fifth run in scoring position with one out, and put the potential tying run in the batter’s box.
Instead, Ozark reliever/winner Chris Danielson still had a 3-runs lead to protect and got the last out of the inning from the next batter to keep it there. Errors by Lantigua and catcher Dawsen Bacho to start the next half-inning set the table for Ozark to put the game on ice.
Statistically, Ozark out-hit Chillicothe 11-6 and did not commit an error, while the Fish were charged with three and had at least two other fielding plays they could have made, but didn’t.
For the Fish, bright spots were the two hits each of Peres, who continues to hit over .450, and Jarema, whose on-base percentage is over .450 and Collister’s scoreless first 4-1/3 innings.
For Ozark, Michael Keeran had three hits and three runs driven in.