Fish's 10-runs third inning leads to first use of MINK League's new 'mercy rule' in 14-4 home victory over previously-undefeated Sedalia
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Chillicothe’s Mudcats already were in line to be, with the Ozark Generals, first to implement this Thursday one of two game-length changes the MINK League voted last offseason to initiate this 2018 season.
Saturday night, they became the first to employ the other, too.
Set to face Ozark in a league doubleheader later this week, with the length of the second game of the twinbill this year expanded to a full nine innings from its prior seven, the previously-winless Mudcats unleashed a 14-hits, 8-walks, 2-hit-batsmen onslaught, including a 10-runs third inning, on the previously-undefeated Sedalia Bomb- ers at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park stadium Saturday night, generating a 14-4 advantage through 6-1/2 innings.
Because the home team was in front by at least 10 runs after the opponent had batted seven times, the game was terminated at that juncture on the “10-runs-lead” or “mercy” rule.
The blowout emphatically put Chillicothe in the “wins” column for the first time this summer after two lackluster losses and cut off Sedalia’s season-opening winning streak at three.
The same teams are to tangle a third-straight night Sunday. The 6:05 p.m. start is expected to see righthander William Cain opening on the hill for the Fish, who will have Monday off.
Saturday’s historic league victory came one night after, for the first time in their 17-seasons history, the Mudcats had sustained losses in each of their first two outings of the season.
That they would not dip to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the league was all but chiseled in stone in the bottom of the third inning of Saturday’s contest, which was played in splendid weather.
With Chillicothe righthander Jack Cavanaugh making his hill debut after serving as designated hitter the two previous nights and 2017 Mudcat Tyler Clark, who threw six innings (9.00 earned run average) in five appearances last summer as he began rehabbing an arm injury, having combined to work 2-1⁄2 scoreless innings, the Mudcats sent No. 9 batter Peyton Cormane to the plate to lead off their third set of hacks.
Even though Cormane would whiff for the fifth time in plate appearances thus far, he’d partially redeem himself before the half-inning ended.
Beginning with an infield single by Luke Schwartz behind that leadoff strikeout, 13 of the next 14 Chillicothe batsmen would reach base safely. Even the one man retired in that long, long stretch – newly-arrived outfielder Nate Gawelko – was productive, lifting a sacrifice fly to right field to make the score 2-0.
Following Schwartz’s hit, red-hot Floridian Jonathan Carratala legged out a slow roller to shortstop for his second hit of the game, putting two on with one out for DH Jon Taylor.
The tall, lefthanded hitter sent a pitch back up the middle and into center field, scoring the game’s first run as Carratala hurried to third.
Following Gawelko’s scoring fly ball made it 2-0 with two outs, the Mudcat lowered the boom on the Bombers and Clark.
Hot-hitting Andrew Williams singled Taylor from second to third before Nico Burgarello, like Gawelko a new arrival from Grand Canyon University, launched a deep drive down the right-field line that bounced off the wall for a RBI double.
Dalton Robison, a late preseason addition to the Fish when it became likely anticipated returnee Ramger Iglesias would be a “no-show” as he awaits his likely selection in this week’s Major League Baseball “First-Year Player” Draft, then pulled a hit over the shortstop’s head that scored two more and left him at second on the throw home.
The inning should have ended with a healthy 5-spot for the Mudcats, but a booted roller off Jared Fry’s bat not only let him reach, but allowed Robison to race home from second, making it 6-0, Chillicothe.
Given his second chance to bat in the inning, Cormane kayoed Clark by blasting a pitch off the wall in deep left-center field for a run-scoring double.
At that point, as a reliever entered, the Mudcats bats went quiet, but they kept scoring.
The relief hurler’s first 11 deliveries missed the strike zone and he eventually walked all four Fish he faced, forcing in two more runs to make it 9-0.
Another pitching change did not change the script as Will-iams became the 10th-consecutive Chillicothe batter to get on safely, accepting another run-scoring base on balls.
Armed with the 10-0 margin, Cavanaugh (1-0) posted another zero in the fourth before Sedalia netted two runs – one unearned – in his fifth and final inning.
The Mudcats countered with three more in their half and another in the sixth before Sedalia got its last two in the seventh. When Chillicothean Tristen Sewell struck out two Bombers with the bases loaded and the potential game-extending run at third base, the Fish had the win.
Statistically, Chillicothe had six players – Robison, Carratala, Cormane, Gawelko, Schwartz, and Taylor – with either multiple hits or runs batted in as it out-hit Sedalia 13-4. Carratala is off to a 5-for-7 start.