Joplin completed sweep of 3-games road series with Fish with 6-1 getaway victory, holding Chillicothe to three hits – none in last five innings of MINK League college-level baseball game
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — With a 3-games home series against the last-place team in the MINK League’s South Division Saturday through Monday, the Chillicothe Mudcats nominally had a chance to begin salvaging their 2018 season and their last realistic opportunity to create a surge which would allow them to sustain their organization’s 16-years distinction of having never ended a season with losing record.
That latter hope effectively died, however, when the visiting Joplin Outlaws swept all three games, including a 6-1 league triumph last night that likely ranks as the Mudcats’ most lifeless performance of the season. Chillicothe produced only three hits – none after the fourth inning.
Three of the first four Joplin batters of the game against losing pitcher Lane Threkleld (0-2) whacked solid hits, including two doubles, and the Outlaws, it turned out, had all the runs they’d need to win the series finale, owning a 2-0 lead.
Chillicothe, not hitting well with runners in scoring position of late, left the bases full without scoring in the second and third innings, dampening the spirits. Even when the Fish scored their run in the third on a Nick Ray single, stolen base, a wild pitch, and a groundout by Jonathan Carratala, a second runner was at third base with one out and didn’t budge.
That turned out to be the Mudcats’ last whimper as Ray’s hit proved to be their last one of the night. Outlaws starting and winning pitcher Quest Mock worked a hitless fifth to qualify for the victory before turning things over to fellow righthander Connor Gilles, who threw four near-perfect frames, allowing only one of the 13 men he faced to reach.
Joplin iced the win with four more runs off a clearly-fading Threlkeld in the fifth before righthander Ricky Espinoza had, far and away, his sharpest outing of the season. Espinoza essentially matched Gilles’ showing, setting down 12 of the 13 men he threw to, allowing one runner on a ninth-inning single.
Prior to Monday, Espinoza (Sun Valley, Nev./Folsom Lake Coll.) had allowed 14 hits and 11 earned runs in 10-1/3 innings, while throwing only 129 strikes, compared to 93 balls. Against the Outlaws Monday, he fired 34 strikes and only 13 balls, walking no one and striking out four.
Statistically, the Mudcats were out-hit 9-3, yet still managed to leave 10 runners on base. In a turnabout from the norm of this season, four Fish were hit by pitches – another four were walked – while Chillicothe hurlers did not plunk anyone.
Joplin's attack was led by designated hitter Blake Wynn's two hits, two runs batted in, and two runs scored. He had a run-scoring single in the first inning and RBI double as he went back-to-back on 2-baggers with Kaleb DeLaTorre in the 4-runs fifth.
Chillicothe (12-22 overall, 10-21 league), having slipped to 5-1/2 games out of the third and final league playoffs berth in the North Division, but still with five games left against second-place Clarinda, Iowa, who it trails by 6-1/2, will play its annual “home” game at Trenton’s Burleigh Grimes Field tonight at 7:05 p.m., a virtual “must-win” clash with those Clarinda A’s.