Fish's 5-runs third, 8-runs fourth fuel third win over visiting Jefferson City MINK League baseball team in two nights
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Down 2-0 after 2-1/2 innings, the Chillicothe Mudcats – on the evening of their community’s annual Freedom Fest fireworks show – displayed their own pyrotechnics for the visiting Jeffersn City Renegades Saturday.
The Mudcats exploded for 13 runs combined in the third and fourth innings and coasted on to a 15-2 MINK League baseball triumph, posting their third decision over the league’s newest member in two nights.
Chillicothe’s starburst of scoring – aided by several Jefferson City defensive miscues – allowed it to improve its overall won-lost record to 16-11 and its league ledger to 12-11. Jefferson City, still seeking its first victory over the Fish, dropped to 12-16 overall and 9-16 in the loop.
While Saturday’s July-debuting laugher featured a bushelful of Mudcats runs, the work of fill-in starting pitcher Trevor Maly might have played as key a role in the blowout as the team’s hitting.
A reliever most of the season, the St. Andrews University righthander had made a start only four nights before, going the first four innings of a game the Mudcats won at Nevada, Mo. However, because intervening injuries among infielders forced 2-ways performer Chris Peres to be part of the starting infield Saturday, rather than pitching, Maly (3-0) was pushed into the breach.
Jack Winters, the Chillicothe head/pitching coach said he had no worries about turning to Maly.
“He’s going to be a senior. He’s a veteran player. He knows how to make the adjustment, so there was no concern there about short notice,” the coach said after Saturday’s win. “He was completely ready.”
He responded by dancing out of first-inning danger with only one run allowed and then limiting the hit he took in the third to an individual tally, as well.
Analyzed Winters, “Early on, he made a lot of good pitches. His (called) balls were low pitches, but good height. Some umpires might give (them) to him and some might not.”
That gave the offense a chance to get untracked. Once it did and provided him with a cushion, the Illinoisan was able to extend through six full innings and become the team’s second 3-games winner. Reliever Austin Gussman went to 3-0 the night before.
Maly’s final line in Saturday’s tilt was two runs – one earned – on only four hits in six innings. He walked merely one and hit one, notching four strikeouts.
“When you have a lead like that, you just fill (the strike zone) up with your fastball and let your defense do the work,” Chillicothe’s head coach reflected. “He made the pitches he had to early and did a really good job of pitching with the lead later.”
In keeping with the tone Maly set, relievers Tyler Clark and Nate Wenson paired for three innings of shutout ball to close it out.
Down 2-0 as they came up in the third, the Chillicothe hitters quickly got down to business.
Devonte Washington, serving in the designated hitter’s role, bounced a hit through the hole on the left side leading off and on-base-percentage master Kenny Jarema drew a 4-pitches walk. A bunt pushed to the third-base side of the mound was placed well enough that speedster Ramger Iglesias beat the throw on a bang-bang play.
The bases now full, the Mudcats tied it with a hit and the first of four costly Renegades errors.
Kody Gardner spanked a line drive to the right of the shortstop for a clean single, sending Washington home. However, Jarema – leading away from second base with his back to the shortstop’s positioning – thought it might be within the fielder’s reach, so he headed back toward eecond. When he then braked and turned back toward third he was racing a throw from the charging left fielder. He managed to beat the peg on a close play which led to the left fielder’s low throw skipping past the third baseman into foul territory. The catcher recovered it there, but not in time to cut down Jarema as he dashed home with the tying run.
With Iglesias and Gardner advancing to third and second, respectively, on the sequence, the gates had been swung open for a big inning. Chillicothe marched through.
A Chris Peres roller to shortstop plated Iglesias as the first out was recorded at first. After a strikeout, Bryce Bisenius pulled a run-scoring single into right for a 4-2 margin. Following Dawsen Bacho’s opposite-field hit, a walk and Washington’s being hit by a 3-2 pitch forced home the inning’s fifth run.
When, now armed with a 3-runs lead, Maly worked a quick, 1-2-3 fourth, the hosts still had major momentum as they came back to the dugout to bat. Chillicothe’s hitting contagion and Jefferson City’s rattled defense then combined to cause a major rupture in the contest.
Having sent 11 batters to the dish in the 5-runs third, eight Fish hits and two Renegades errors on routine plays led to 12 batters stepping in in the fourth.
With Jefferson City starting-losing hurler Anthony Green replaced by another righthander, Kolton Clark to begin the fourth, Gardner lit the fuse on the offensive fireworks with his second hit. Peres singled, too, and a wild pitch let Gardner move to third. Justin Blasinski knocked home the inning’s first run with a single and Bisenius’ infield hit loaded the bases.
On the play which largely assured the game would go to the Mudcats, Bacho hit a 1-hopper right down the third-base line for what likely should have become an inning-ending 5-3 double play that kept the score at a still-competitive 6-2. However, perhaps fighting the sun in his eyes on the high hopper, the third baseman – his right foot on the base – had the ball go in and out of his glove and into foul territory. The result was a run scoring, no outs achieved, and the bases still full.
The missed defensive opportunity killed the Renegades immediately when Tanner Baker pulled a ground-rule double into the right-field corner, making it 9-2. The third baseman then booted another easy grounder, allowing Washington to reach, again loading the sacks.
Jarema cashed in this time, serving an opposite-field, 2-runs single into left as the Chillicothe lead grew to nine. After another pitching change, an infield hit, run-scoring fielder’s choice, and Peres’ second hit of the inning bumped the margin up to 13-2 after four.
From there, the result was academic. The gap held at 11 runs until the eighth. There, the fifth Renegades pitcher again was undercut by a defensive mistake – this time from his shortstop on the inning’s first batter.
A hit, a second plunking of Washington, a run-scoring second walk to Jarema, and a RBI groundout by iglesias left the Mudcats with their second-largest runs output of the summer.
Statistically, five Fish – Iglesias, Gardner, Peres, Bisenius, and Baker – stroked two hits each in the 13-singles, 1-double chip-and-seal assault. Four Mudcats had more than one run batted in, paced by No. 9 batter Jarema’s trifecta. Baker, Gardner, and Peres had two each. A half-dozen Chillicotheans scored twice apiece.
Jefferson City had only six hits and the trio of Mudcats hurlers issued only two walks and hit only one man. Making its offensive woes worse, Chillicothe rolled a pair of double plays on grounders, including one shortstop Iglesias dazzlingly began with a backhanded, short-hop pick of a low liner and back-to-the-plate, backhanded feed to pivot man Jarema at second.
The Renegades’ first-inning run crossed the plate on a wild pitch – although a subsequent infield hit would have score the man. In the third, Mike Million’s booming, 1-out double to left plated a runner from first.