Host Griffons score four times in third to snap 1-1 tie, win 6-3 in MINK League college-level, wood-bat baseball. Mudcats home for 6:05 p.m. doubleheader Friday (June 30)
NEVADA, Mo. — The Chillicothe Mudcats’- Nevada Griffons’ 3-games MINK League baseball series which concluded Thursday had a simple, iron-clad thread or theme to it, in terms of winning games: Score a sizable number of runs in the first four tinnings, then hold on.
In the series opener Tuesday, the guest Mudcats piled up 10 runs in the first four frames and withstood a Griffons push to prevail 10-7. Tne next night, Nevada plated six runs by the end of the fourth and fended off the Fish for a 6-5 triumph.
Thursday’s series finale witnessed more of the same and the same result.
Solo home runs by Griffons Kainalu Pitoy in the opening inning and L.J. Hatch in the fourth sandwiched a 4-runs Nevada third to put the hosts in command 6-1 after four, en route to a 6-3 victory.
As in the first two games – even though each team won once, the late innings Thursday saw Nevada’s bullpen largely shut down the Chillicothe offense after the sixth inning.
After Griffons relievers retired the last 14 Mudcats batters Tuesday and the final 10 Wednesday, the last 12 Chillicotheans to step in the batter’s box Thursday produced only one hit – a 2-outs, RBI single in the ninth by Bryce Bisenius that offered a fleeting glimmer of hope which Nevada closer David Ruot quickly redacted with his third strikeout of the final frame.
Nevada’s second-straight triumph over the fast-fading Fish boosted the Griffons’ league record to 11-13 and their overall mark to 11-15. Dropping its ninth in the last 12 games following a blazing 10-2 beginning to 2017, Chillicothe tumbled to 9-11 in the league and 13-11 overall.
The Mudcats will try to get their vessel righted and pointed back in a positive direction during a 5-games homestand over the next four nights.
Starting Friday at 6:05 p.m. at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park stadium – if the previous two nights’ extensive rains and any subsequent precipitation don’t make the field unplayable, Chillicothe will face the Jefferson City Renegades four times – including a doubleheader tonight (Friday) which will make up the teams’ early June rainout at Jefferson City and in which the Renegades will play their first-ever game in Chillicothe as the “home” team on the scoreboard, since it replaces the game they were due to host. Both games tonight will be slated for seven innings.
After meeting Jeff City again in single games Saturday and Sunday at 7:05 p.m., the Mudcats will welcome back the runaway leader in their MINK North division – the St. Joseph Mustangs – Monday at 7:05 p.m.
If Friday’s scheduled action cannot take place then, given the logic of shifting the one previous rainout from Jefferson City’s Vivion Field to Chillicothe, it would seem most likely that those two games would be rolled over into back-to-back doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday.
At the time of the prior postponed game, Chillicothe general manager Doug Doughty related Jefferson City’s management was concerned about its pitching depth late in the season and would want to get the reset game played while its stable of pitchers was somewhat fresher. Chillicothe’s only other scheduled trip to mid-Missouri is in the last week of the regular season and playing the postponed early June contest by itself on one of the pre-set rainout “make-up” dates would both eliminate a day off for the Renegades’ potentially-stretech mound staff and have it be a full-length, 9-innings game, rather than the shortened length of a double-dip game.
Following Monday’s contest, the Mudcats won’t have another regular-season game until next Saturday, July 8.
No game was scheduled for July 4, Independence Day, again this year and next Wednesday and Friday were kept clear of games around the league to allow for full availability of all league players in next Thursday’s MINK League All-Star Day, which Chillicothe will be the host site for this year for the first time.
Thursday will include a morning and early afternoon devoted to giving professional scouts and college coaches to test, measure, and work out any league players interested in participating.
Late that afternoon, a “Home Run Derby” will be held with one representative from each of the league’s eight teams will take place, prior to a league All-Star Game, set to start at 7 p.m.
Coming out of the All-Star Day break, Chillicothe’s first three games also are to be at home, potentially giving it a season-longest stretch of eight consecutive games in its familiar Shaffer Park stadium surroundings.
After that, the Mudcats will have only five of their last 15 games at home.
Thursday at Nevada, Chillicothe actually claimed the first lead, even after losing a man on the bases in the top of the first inning.
With two outs and the bases clear after an unusual 6-3-5 double play, Chris Peres walked and hurried all the way home on Bisenius’ slicing double off the end of the left fielder’s glove down the line.
That lead quickly vanished when the second batter Mudcats pitcher Blake Collister (0-1) faced in his second start of the summer, Pitoy, jumped on the first pitch he saw for a home run over the fence in left-center field.
A leadoff walk in the bottom of the third opened the door to Nevada’s biggest inning. The free pass was followed by a 1-out single by Pitoy and back-to-back doubles by Nick Kreutzer and Noah Menchaca. Kreutzer’s RBI 2-batter broke the 1-1 tie and Menchaca’s moved the lead to 4-1. Menchaca then stole third base – the second of a shocking eight bags the Griffons swiped in the game – and scored on a wild pitch, although a subsequent single would have scored him anyway.
Up 5-1 after three, Nevada posted its last run in the fourth when leadoff man L.J. Hatch lofted his third home run of the season over the left-field fence with the bases empty.
Chillicothe trimmed one run off its deficit in the sixth when No. 9 hitter Kenny Jarema delivered a 2-outs single to right-center off Nevada starting and winning pitcher Jacob Lewis. It scored Dawsen Bacho, who had opened the inning with a double.
After that, Griffons long-time head coach Ryan Mansfield turned to his increasingly-reliable bullpen and was rewarded with a low-stress latter third of the game.
Statistically, Chillicothe was out-hit 10-8 and again had a double-digits total of runners left on base – 10. Nevada stranded eight.
Individually, the Mudcats got solid-enough relief pitching of their own as, despite several wobbly moments, Dan Naif and Nate Wenson combined to turn in four shutout innings of 2-hits ball. Wenson rescued Naif from a bases-full, 2-outs jam in the seventh.
On offense, Bisenius had his two hits and two runs driven in. Mostly from the designated hitter’s role, he is second on the Chillicothe club in batting average (.382) and RBI (21).
With an 0-for-3 night Thursday, Mudcat Chris Peres saw his average drop below .400 to .392.
In addition to Menchaca’s two RBI and the solo homers of Hatch and Pitoy, Nevada had two hits and two thefts apiece from Oscar Larranaga and Blaine Demello. Rafael Villela Jr. swiped three bags and Pitoy had both a second hit and second run scored.
After a fairly-shoddy defensive game by both clubs on Wednesday, each side limited its errors total to one Thursday. Neither figured in the scoring.