Use 5-runs sixth inning at Jefferson City to dump Renegades 10-6, halting 4-games league slump. Inch a half-game ahead of Clarinda (Iowa) for third place in North Division
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Their wheezing hopes of solidifying their North Division position in the MINK League playoffs race desperately in need of some oxygen, the Chillicothe Mudcats college-level, summer baseball team found it Tuesday, with considerable aid from the South Division’s Jefferson City Renegades.
Eleven walks and three errors by the host Renegades combined with enough timely hitting by the Mudcats to give Chillicothe a 10-6 victory at Jefferson City’s Ernest Vivion Field.
That halted a 4-games league losing streak for the Mudcats and brought them back within two games of .500 in league play at 13-15. Overall, they improved to 18-15.
Chillicothe kept pace with the two teams ahead of them in the North race – St. Joseph kept its 3-games lead over surging Sedalia and lopped a valuable day off the calendar. Sedalia, which – like the Mudcats and St. Joe won Tuesday – stayed 3-1/2 games ahead of the Mudcats in second.
Because the Clarinda (Iowa) A’s were idle, Chillicothe’s win moved it back into sole possession – at least temporarily – of the third and final playoffs spot in the North by a half-game.
Jefferson City, the first-year MINK League member, tumbled to 12-19 in the loop and 16-19 overall, but still has a 3-games grip on the South’s third playoffs berth ahead of Joplin.
Tuesday’s contest – played perhaps a statute-mile from the state capitol building – could have seen the hosts with a solid lead after five innings, rather than tied 5-5.
Because it was even, however, when Chillicothe had an offensive breakout in the top of the sixth – scoring five times on three hits, three walks, and a hit batsman, the Mudcats gained command and rode excellent relief pitching from Dan Naif and Houston Morris to the wire for the 4-runs win.
The decisive rally began when Jefferson City – which acknowledged in the season’s first couple of weeks that it expected to have pitching-depth problems come July – exhibited why it had those concerns even then.
It had lifted starting pitcher Bradley Brown after only two innings, even though he had given up only one hit and one walk. Because of an egregious error behind him in each inning, however, the Mudcats had posted three unearned runs and were tied 3-3, despite the Renegades having out-hit them 5-1, including a home run and double.
The early departure of Brown brought righthander Kolton Clark, who entered with an earned-run average in double digits, into the game. He used the first of five double plays Chillicothe would hit into to put up a scoreless third. A second twin-killing in the fourth helped Ramger Iglesias’ 2-outs double that plated Kenny Jarema from first base be the only damage he sustained in the fourth and Chris Peres’ double to center field to score Anthony Lantigua in the fifth was all the Fish would net in the fifth as they failed to add on with the bases full and one out.
With Clark having tap-danced around major damage for three innings, Jefferson City head coach Mike DeMilia tapped his bullpen a second time. The immediate results were not good.
Starting the top of the sixth with the game deadlocked, Chillicothe’s Jarema coaxed his second of three walks in the game, raising his season total to 28, a figure seemingly starting to close in on the team’s season record. At least one previous Mudcat had at least 36 walks in a season, a total the eagle-eyed Jarema is on pace to surpass easily.
After a strikeout and a pair of wild pitches, Ethan O’Keefe hit Lantigua with a delivery to put runners at the corners. Peres spanked a hit through the right side for his second RBI of the game and a 6-5 Mudcats lead.
Justin Blasinski’s hard grounder up the middle got into center field to make it 7-5 and, after a shallow fly out, O’Keefe’s third walk of the inning loaded the bases and ended his stint after only two-thirds of an inning.
His replacement was left fielder Hunter Swift, who had led off the bottom of the first with a home run, the second time in as many games against the Fish he’d gone deep to start the first.
As a pitcher, he walked the first man he faced to force in a run, then yielded a 2-runs single up the middle to Tanner Baker as Chillicothe went ahead 10-5.
Having taken their third lead of the evening – it was up 2-0 after a half-inning and 3-2 after 1-1/2, the visitors protected this one, thanks to Naif and Morris.
Naif’s second very-good outing in as many nights saw him work three innings of 1-hit, 1-unearned-run ball with five strikeouts and no walks. Morris then fanned two in the ninth, giving the righthander 11 Ks in 5-2/3 innings over his first four appearances with the team.
Statistically Tuesday, Chillicothe was out-hit 13-10, but that was more than counterbalanced by the 11 walks Mudcats received, compared to the two they issued. Jefferson City also made three errors to Chillicothe’s one.
Individually, four Fish – Baker, Iglesias, Peres, and Blasinski – drove in two runs apiece. Jarema and Lantigua each drew three bases on balls and was hit once.
Wobbly starting pitcher Tyler Hansen (2-1) still got the win, lasting five innings.