Ahead of host Mustangs 3-0 after five innings, Mudcats trailed 4-3 with two outs and two strikes in ninth before Cavanaugh triple tied it, Cormane single won MINK League baseball contest
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The tide in their game turned their way by their execution of a freak double play to end the bottom of the seventh inning with only a 1-run deficit, the Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats’ MINK League college-level, wood-bat baseball team handed itself an opportunity to have a critical pivot point to a slow-starting 2018 season Wednesday (June 20).
With host and defending league champion St. Joseph having just completed a recovery from an early 3-0 Mudcats lead with a bases-full single that put the Mustangs in front 4-3, Chillicothean Tristen Sewell started and finished a double play for his hometown team to keep it a 1-run deficit. The Mudcats then produced a trio of key 2-outs plays in the top of the ninth to tie things again and then regain the lead, this time holding it for a 5-4 victory.
A 1-out walk to Dalton Robison and pinch-runner Luke Schwartz’s 2-outs, 2-strikes steal of second base that drew an errant throw set up a game-tying triple by pinch-hitter Jack Cavanaugh in the ninth. Peyton Cormane followed with a single past the St. Joseph shortstop to give Chillicothe back the lead and reliever Derrek Trickel (1-0), who also worked the eighth, set the Mustangs down in order in the bottom of the ninth to wrap up the pulsating victory.
Chillicothe, in the basement of the league’s North Division, improved to 7-10 in the MINK League and 7-11 overall entering Thursday night’s scheduled 7:05 league home game against Jefferson City. St. Joseph dipped to 10-6 in the league and 12-7 overall.
If the Mudcats make a midstream course correction and end the year with a winning mark and one of the three league-playoffs berths from their division, Wednesday’s win might well stand as the moment when they turned the tide their way.
After building a 3-runs lead in the relatively-early going with two runs in the third inning and one in the fourth off St. Joseph starting pitcher Joseph Heitpas (Northwest Missouri State U.), Chillicothe and its starting hurler Tanner Marshall (Canton, Mo./Maryville U.) saw that advantage vanish in the sixth.
Lefthander Sewell (North Central Missouri Coll.) took over at the start of the St. Joseph seventh and already had allowed a run on three singles and a walk when he threw an 0-2, bases-loaded, 1-out pitch to Alex Phillips. Phillips chased and missed the pitch for strike three and even though the pitch was not caught, since first base was occupied with less than two outs, officially became out No. 2.
However, the Mustangs runner at third base thought the ball had eluded catcher Jared Fry far enough he could score and dashed for home. As Sewell handled his post-pitch-release responsibility and hurried in to cover home plate, Fry quickly tracked the ball down and made a quick, on-target flip to the pitcher. With the advantage of wearing his glove on his right hand, the lefthanded-throwing Sewell was able to quickly slap a tag on the sliding runner for an out that not only saved the would-be fifth Mustangs run, but completed a double play that provided the inning-ending second and third outs and left two runners aboard.
After a quick eighth kept it a 4-3 game, Chillicothe came to bat for its last hacks.
After the leadoff man was retired by new St. Joseph pitcher Nicholas Houzenga (Wheatland, Iowa/Southwestern [Iowa] CC), Robison was handed a base on balls on four pitches.
With the speedier Schwartz inserted to run for Robison, a fly out to center field left the home side an out away from a comeback victory. When pinch-hitter Cavanaugh quickly dropped into an 0-2 hole on the count, the Mustangs were a pitch away from triumph. They never got there, though.
After fouling an 0-2 offering, he took a ball as Schwartz tried to steal second. The throw to second was low and eluded the middle infielders, allowing Schwartz to go to third. That extra advancement put extra heat on the St. Joseph defense, since a wild pitch, passed ball, or infield error now might yield the equalizer for Chillicothe.
Cavanaugh, however, didn’t give the Mustangs a chance to self-destruct. Instead he lashed the next pitch between the outfielders for a game-tying extra-base hit. When the ball was not efficiently handled and relayed in, the pinch-hitter raced all the way to third with a triple, putting the same pressure on the St. Joseph defense it had just been under, only this time with the lead run at stake.
Cormane took a ball on the first pitch Houzenga gave him, but went after the second and hit it sharply to the left side of the infield. When it could not be flagged down by the shortstop, Cormane had a RBI single and Chillicothe the lead once more.
The lead nearly grew to more than a run as an error by the Mustangs and then a walk loaded the bases before the side was retired.
That left it up to Trickel (Hallsville, Mo.), a University of Missouri student, but only a club-level baseball player there, to try to lock it down.
Having worked around a hit in the eighth, the righthanded, submarine-delivery hurler whiffed the first two Mustangs he faced in the ninth, then ended it with a routine fly ball to right field.
Through five innings, it didn’t appear Chillicothe would require any late dramatics.
Marshall had blanked St. Joseph, currently second in the North Division behind Sedalia, on three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts to that point.
Meanwhile, a third-inning hit by Fry, a 2-outs walk to Hussey, and Cole Taylor’s 2-runs single had put the Fish in front and an Andrew Williams single, a walk to Connor Quick, Robison’s sacrifice bunt, and Nick Ray’s scoring fly ball had tacked on a third tally in the fourth.
When Chillicothe couldn’t add on further until its back was against the wall and St. Joseph finally got to Marshall – Terrance Spurlin’s 2-outs, 2-run home run squared things in the sixth – and then Sewell, things looked grim for the guests. They didn’t give up, though, and, instead, generated an opportunity for a change in their fortunes to date.
Statistically Wednesday at St. Joseph, the Mudcats were out-hit 10-7, but the Mustangs had the game’s only three errors. The Chillicothe hill trio of Marshall, Sewell, and Trickel limited its “freebies” to only four walks and – uncharacteristically – no hit batsmen, lessening the impact of the 10 hits allowed.
With his game-winning hit, Cormane joined Williams as the only Fish with multi-hits games, each collecting two. St. Joseph’s Joshua Lincoln was three for four with a run scored.
Cormane also stole his MINK League-best 20th base – no other player in the loop has more than nine, according to the league’s online statistical site.
Yet to be caught, Cormane is one successful theft shy of equaling Trevor Jones’ 2013 team record of 21 consecutive steals without being thrown out.