Fish won, lost ground in MINK League North race Friday; now tied for third

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Having – and winning – their first extra-inning game since losing their 2017 opener, the Chillicothe Mudcats’ Kody Gardner plated Bryce Bisenius with a sacri-fice fly in the top of the 11th inning Friday night to forge a
5-4 triumph over the Ozark Generals.
The MINK League victory gave Chillicothe a split of its season series with the loop’s South Division leader and a split of its 4-games road trip.
It also allowed the Mudcats to stay in third place in the North Division, although they lost their sole grip on it when the Clarinda (Iowa) A’s – making up a rained-out game from Thursday – swept a Friday doubleheader with Joplin. Chillicothe came home for a 3-games weekend set with Joplin 20-17 overall and, like Clarinda, 15-17 in the league.
Friday’s Chillicothe conquest of the Generals came with a deep sigh of relief as it was a game it led 3-0 early and both 3-1 and 4-2 in the late innings.
After Ozark scored single runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings off the combination of Mudcats starting hurler Chris Peres and new closer Houston Morris, Jerald Johnston came into a 4-4 game to begin the bottom of the 10th and soon found his back to the wall. A leadoff single and a 1-out hit and walk loaded the bases with one out.
The Whittier, Calif., hurler out of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, where he plays for 2006-07 Mudcats assistant coach Matt Parker had shown a facility for pitching well in tight spots early in the season before scuffling for a while. He rediscovered that “mojo” just in time.
The sidewheeler induced a ground ball which became a forceout at home plate to keep the game going, then another which retired the runner heading for third, sending the game to the 11th.
In the Chillicothe 11th, Bisenius, Kenny Jarema, and Ramger Iglesias stroked consecutive 1-out singles to stoke a bases-full threat. Whereas Ozark had not cashed in on an identical chance, Gardner lofted the ball deep enough for Bisenius to race home after the catch with what became the winning run.
Johnston set down the first two Generals batters in the bottom half before allowing a double. With the tying run in scoring position, he got Bo McSpadden, in his first at-bat of the game, to swing and miss at strike three, giving him his third win in relief against no losses, but his first since the ninth game of 2017.
The Mudcats’ early scoring happened in the top of the second inning.
After a scoreless first for both sides, Tanner Baker worked a 1-out walk and Bisenius cracked the first of his two hits. Jarema also singled to fill the sacks.
Iglesias, who has been reasonably productive in driving in runs as a leadoff batter, opened the scoring with a basehit to center that also kept the bases full.
Following a strikeout, Anthony Lanti-gua got a base knock to center, driving home two for a 3-0 lead.
Ozark got a run back in the bottom of the second, but that was the only damage it did to Peres until the seventh. He finished his 6-2⁄3 innings having allowed only two runs, but Morris couldn’t quite earn the save, wild-pitching in the tying run with two outs in the ninth.