Combining to throw more balls than strikes, three relievers surrender nine runs on six hits, seven walks, a hit batter, and three errors in last four innings of July13, 2018, 11-0 home loss to Jefferson City
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Three Jefferson City Renegades pitchers combined on a 3-hits shutout Friday as the Renegades overran the host Chillicothe Mudcats 11-0 in MINK League college-level, wood-bat baseball.
The Chillicothe defeat, paired with St. Joseph’s 10-8 comeback victory over Clarinda, Iowa, lowered the Mudcats’ “magic number” for elimination from the league’s North Division “wild-card” race to four with nine games to play.
The Mudcats will host Clarinda at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park stadium tonight (Saturday) at 7:05.
Chillicothe’s season record sank to 13-23 with its league mark now 11-22. Unless the Mudcats win their last nine regular-season games and then advance through the MINK League playoffs to the league championship series and either sweep the LCS or take it to its 3-games limit, Friday’s loss mathematically assured their first losing record in 17 years of play.
Friday’s Chillicothe-Jefferson City game was a fine pitchers’ duel until the Mudcats went to their bullpen in the sixth inning.
Chillicothe starting pitcher Preston Ludwick blanked the Renegades on three hits and 53 pitches through four innings. Jefferson City starter Matthew Wade, however, threw seven innings of shutout ball.
Ludwick, a late-season addition who had not played during the summer until joining the Fish and thus without the current arm strength or conditioning to safely make more than 75 pitches or so, began to weaken in the fifth.
A bloop double to short right-center field, an infield hit Ludwick got a glove on, a run-scoring groundout, and a sharp, 2-outs single gave the visitors a 2-0 lead midway through the game and pushed Ludwick’s pitch count to 73, prompting his removal.
Three Mudcats relief hurlers then combined to allow nine runs – five earned – on six hits, seven walks, and three errors while combining to throw three more balls than strikes over the last four innings as Jefferson City pulled away. A 6-runs Renegades ninth removed all hope of a Chillicothe comeback.
The runs allowed by the Mudcats bullpen might not have been of any consequence anyway as Chillicothe’s offense was nearly non-existent. The Mudcats’ three hits – one an infield hit – were scattered widely through the game and Chillicothe had more than one baserunner in an inning only in the first and last frames. Only one Mudcat reached third base, that in the very first inning when Derek Hussey got there with two outs.