Move two games ahead of Clarinda, Iowa, A's in MINK League baseball North Division playoffs race while losing at Sedalia
SEDALIA, Mo. — The Chillicothe Mudcats were not able to generate the best-case scenario to their MINK League North Division playoffs chase Monday, but, thanks to their competition in that battle, they did improve their outlook.
The streaking Sedalia Bombers continued their hot pursuit of North leader St. Joseph in hopes of gaining the first-round bye in the approaching division playoffs and home-field advantage for the do-or-die second-round playoff game, executing their eighth victory in a row, 11-5 over the Mudcats at Liberty Park stadium.
The loss did not prevent Chillicothe from increasing its lead in the chase for the North’s third and final playoffs berth, however, as fourth-place Clarinda (Iowa) lost a pair of games at Jefferson City.
With those results, the Mudcats (22-19, 17-19 MINK) ended the night two full games ahead of the A’s (20-22, 14-20 MINK). Given that the clubs still have two full games and the completion of a third between them upcoming, both still have control of their respective fates firmly in their own hands, but Chillicothe’s current position gives it a couple more avenues available to reach its destination.
Outside of its 2-plus remaining games against Clarinda, Chillicothe will face only division and league leader St. Joseph. The first of two home games against the Mustangs (30-11, 24-10 MINK) in the next three days will be at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. The first 250 fans entering “June” Shaffer Memorial Park stadium gates will receive, free of charge, the 2017 Mudcats team photo poster.
Clarinda will play another game at Jefferson City Tuesday.
At Sedalia Monday, the Bombers (22-13, 22-13) picked right up where they had left off in dominating the Mudcats.
Victorious over Chillicothe by eight, six, eight, and nine runs in their four most-recent meetings – including twice in Chillicothe early last week, Sedalia seized a quick, error-aided 3-0 lead after one inning of the teams’ last regular-season meeting.
After that initial blow, Mudcats starting pitcher Zack Mathes (2-3), in his third start against Sedalia this summer, found a better groove and yielded only two more runs over the next six innings.
However, because Chillicothe was producing only five hits and one run – driven in by Justin Blasinski with a double to center field in the fourth inning – off Sedalia starter Justin Murphy, Mathes exited with his team behind 5-1.
The Bombers then lowered the boom on reliever Jase Dalton, utilizing six hits and a second Mudcats defensive misplay to tack on six runs – three earned – in the bottom of the eighth.
The top of the ninth saw beleaguered Sedalia reliever Jordan Lawrence have a second-straight poor outing against Chillicotthe. He didn’t retire any of the five Fish he faced, walking three and hitting one. Eventually, a second single off a different pitcher helped bring the visitors within 11-4 with one out.
However, in a strange. ill-advised ending, a sacrifice fly by Chris Peres led to the game-ending out when, according to the game’s radio broadcast, Ramger Iglesias, pointlessly trying to advance from second to third on the play, was tagged out when he overslid third base.
Statistically, Chillicothe’s highlight of the game might have been the three bases on balls Kenny Jarema drew. They raised his season total to 35, one less than the team’s single-season record, set by Tyler Knight in 2008.
Mathes was charged with five runs – four earned – in his seven innings. He struck out nine and walked only one, compared to the eight free passes Sedalia pitchers issued.
The Bombers doubled Chillicothe’s hit total, 14-7.