Tied 5-5 in sixth inning Tuesday (July 3, 2018), Chillicothe (Mo.) college-level, wood-bat baseball team ends 6-games skid with offensive fireworks, 16-6 victory over Ozark
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — After the visiting Ozark Generals twice squared things after the Chillicothe Mudcats gained leads of 3-0 and 5-3, the Mudcats tore into the Ozark bullpen for five runs in the sixth inning and then a Nick Ray-spiced 3-runs home run, game-ending six tallies in the bottom of the eighth – all 11 scoring with two outs – Tuesday night to post a 16-6, 8-innings MINK League baseball triumph by the 10-runs-lead rule.
The deluge of late scoring enabled Chillicothe to halt a 6-games losing streak and improve to 11-18 overall and 10-17 in the league. The Fish picked up a half-game on St. Joseph, the team directly ahead of them in third place in the league’s North Division standings. St. Joseph had a non-league game Tuesday and now sits 3-1/2 games ahead of the Mudcats.
Ozark went to 13-13 in league action and 15-13 overall.
Chillicothe will not play on the Fourth of July holiday. Its next action will be at North Division leader Sedalia Thursday at 7 p.m.
The Mudcats’ next home game will be this Friday at 7:05 p.m. against a non-league opponent, the Springfield Redbirds, followed by three straight against MINK member Joplin Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
Tuesday’s home game saw Chillicothe score three times in the second inning, a total Ozark matched in its fourth. The host Mudcats reclaimed the upper hand with two in the fifth, only to have the Generals do the same in the next half-inning.
However, when the Ozark catcher’s throw toward second base on a steal attempt bounced into center field, allowing Luke Schwartz to trot home from third in the home sixth, the Mudcats had a lead they’d keep this time by continuing to expand it.
Before the sixth ended, two more Ozark errors – the Generals made a whopping six on the night – and run-scoring singles by Dalton Robison, Jack Cavanaugh, and Connor Quick had led to a 10-5 Chillicothe lead after six.
With the score 10-6 with two outs and none aboard in the Mudcats’ eighth, the floodgates were opened by a familiar cause – a 2-outs base on balls.
The free pass was followed by Quick’s third hit of the night and Jared Fry’s RBI single to center before Ray jacked a drive over the boards barely fair down the left field line for a 14-6 lead.
Schwartz then was plunked by a slow curveball, went to third on Peyton Cormane’s hit-and-run single to center, and, after Cormane stole his league-leading 28th base, scored on a wild pitch.
Jonathan Carratala, returning to the lineup Tuesday after a recent injury, then stroked his third single of the game on the ground into right field to bring Cormane in from third and give Chillicothe the 10-runs lead necessary to halt the proceedings an inning early.
The late offensive pyrotechnics by Chillicothe gave the pitching win to first reliever Bobby Espinoza (Sun Valley, Nev./Folsom Lake Coll.). Struggling through the sixth after a scoreless fifth, Espinoza (1-2) prevented Ozark from gaining a lead by getting a bases-full forceout grounder to end the inning after issuing 3-consecutive walks. He allowed two runs on two hits and four walks in his two innings.
Since he worked the last two innings played and likely would have finished the game, if not for the “mercy rule” preventing his throwing a third, James “River” Wright, a Missouri Southern State Lion from tiny Bucklin, northeast of Brookfield, gained credit for his first save.
Statistically, Chillicothe wound up scoring a season-best-matching 16 times on 16 hits and combined that with errorless defense. Ozark headed back home after having six runs on eight hits.
For the Mudcats, Quick and Carratala led the way with three hits apiece, with Carratala driving in two runs. Five teammates had two hits each.