Ahead of Joplin 6-1 after five innings, the Fish's pitching staff again staggers in latter half of game and Outlaws rally to claim 10-8 victory in matchup of MINK League last-place teams
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Ahead 6-1 after after five innings against the visiting Joplin Outlaws Sunday evening, the Chillicothe Mudcats college-level, wood-bat baseball team yielded nine unanswered runs from the sixth through the ninth innings and lost 10-8 in MINK League action.
The defeat – Chillicothe’s ninth in its last 11 games – dropped their records to 12-21 overall and 10-20 in the league, entering Monday night’s 7:05 series finale against the Outlaws. Joplin, like Chillicothe in last place in its division of the league, improved to 11-18 overall and 10-18 in the MINK with its fourth win in five tries against the Mudcats.
The two teams will conclude their season series in Chillicothe Monday night at 7:05. Righthander Lane Threlkeld (0-1) is on tap to start on the mound for the Mudcats.
Chillicothe looked to have a solid grip on the contest midway through, but when its starting pitcher faltered and two of its three relief hurlers were ineffective, the game got away.
After Joplin tallied four times in the sixth inning to climb within 6-5, three times in the eighth to go in front, and twice in the ninth to build some needed cushion that withstood a pair of Mudcats markers in the bottom of the ninth.
The home club scored a “gimme” run in the first on a walk, a wild pickoff throw, a wild pitch, and a groundout. Joplin tied it in the fourth, but left the bases loaded and saw Chillicothe quickly re-take the lead with three in its half.
Chillicothean Derek Hussey, making his first appearance in a few days as he battles a shoulder ailment, led off the Mudcats fourth with a single that ignited a 3-runs inning that could have been bigger. Andrew Williams singled Hussey home with one out before a 2-outs hit batsman and an infield error made it 4-1, Chillicothe. However, like the Outlaws in the top half of the frame, the Fish left the sacks jammed.
Chillicothe added on with “2-outs magic” in the fifth. Consecutive singles with two down by Williams and Connor Quick and a walk had the bases full again. This time, hot-swinging catcher Jared Fry came through, the switch-hitter pulling a grounder into right field to drive home two runs and make it 6-1.
Mudcats starting pitcher Trae Brownell faded in the top of the sixth as he approached and passed the 100-pitches mark. By the time reliever Jack Cavanaugh worked out of the bases-full, none-out situation he inherited, all three baserunners aboard when he came in had crossed the plate and it suddenly was a 1-run game.
After Cavanaugh retired the side in order in the seventh, replacements Tristen Sewell and James “River” Wright combined to allow four hits, walk four men, and surrender five runs in the last two innings as Joplin pulled out the victory. The two ninth-inning tallies off Wright were unearned.
Chillicothe tried a last-ditch comeback in the bottom of the ninth with back-to-back, 2-outs singles by Nick Ray and Fry and an error on Fry’s hit down the left-field line bringing two runs home. However, down two with a man on, a strikeout ended the game with the Mudcats again on the short end.
Statistically, the winning pitcher, going 4-2/3 innings in relief, was Joplin lefthander Leonardo Castro, who had surrendered four runs in only one-third of an inning in his only prior appearance against Chillicothe. The loser also was a lefthanded reliever, Tristen Sewell (0-3), who walked two of the three batters he faced to open the eighth.
Offensively, Hussey had two of the Mudcats’ nine hits in his return to action. His 2-for-5 game lifted his batting average to .328 and on-base percentage to .445, both team-highs.
Wiliams stroked a pair of hits, too, as did the hot Fry, who pushed his batting average above .300 (.306) for the first time this summer. Quick went one for two with three walks and scored three times.
Joplin’s 10-hits attack included three hits by No. 8 batter Alec Capshaw. The Outlaws also had one more error than Chillicothe – three, but managed to win despite surrendering four unearned runs.