Down 4-1 after four and 7-4 after six innings in MINK League college-level baseball at Nevada, Mo., June 9, Fish (5-2) score twice each in seventh and eighth and three times in ninth. Merritt mashes his second HR of year and Metcalf connects for 3-runs shot in ninth that becomes difference in third-straight victory
NEVADA, Mo. — The early-season persona of the 2019 Chillicothe Mudcats continued to “cure” Sunday night, June 9, leaving them feeling better and better about what they can achieve this summer.
Just as slow, even, controlled evaporation of concrete – its “curing” – creates a more-structurally-cohesive, durable and strong “structure,” the first 10 days of the Mudcats’ college-level baseball season have seen them immediately sketch out some possible positive team traits and then steadily reinforce them, game after game, to the point that they might have established a very firm foundation for season-long success.
Twice trailing the host Nevada Griffons by three runs in the middle innings of Sunday evening’s contest at hitter-friendly Lyons Stadium in north Nevada, the Mudcats took advantage of the power-friendly field with a 2-runs home run by Chet Merritt that turned a 7-6 eighth-inning deficit into an 8-7 lead and a 3-runs insurance-policy blast by Nolan Metcalf in the ninth to take an 11-8 MINK League triumph.
The Fish’s latest come-from-behind effort was their fourth in seven 2019 outings. Three have become wins and the fourth brought them from five runs behind against early MINK North Division leader St. Joseph to tied in the eighth inning before the Mustangs scratched out a run in the bottom of the ninth to post a walkoff victory.
The conquest of Nevada was Chillicothe’s third-straight win and let them spend yesterday’s off day in possession of an impressive 5-2 record, both overall and in the league.
The Mudcats get back at it, weather permitting, Tuesday night in the opener of a 3-games series at Joplin. Game time against the Outlaws that evening will be 7 o’clock, just as Wednesday’s and Thursday’s games will be. Righthander Jake Gill (1-0) is expected to be Chillicothe’s starting pitcher Tuesday, with Alex Crinigan to make his debut the following night and Scott Duensing toeing the rubber at the start of Thursday’s contest.
At Nevada Sunday, Mudcats starting pitcher Cristhian Cardona and the Griffons’ Walker Johnson kept things scoreless through three innings before the Fish drew first blood, only to draw a sharp retort from their hosts.
No. 9 batter Marcus Gonzalez stroked a 2-outs double in the top of the fourth and Tate Wargo followed immediately with a run-scoring single as the Fish moved ahead. However, in the home half, three bases on balls led to a game-tying double by Chase Beiter and a bases-full triple by Bryland Skinner.
Having ignored the same size deficit entering the bottom of the 13th inning in their stirring 9-8 triumph over Jefferson City the night before, that 4-1 difference before this game was even half-over was no big concern for this year’s resilient Mudcats.
They immediately erased it in the fifth with a 3-runs frame Logan Eickhoff ignited with a leadoff double, Brady Welch highlighted with a 2-outs, bases-full, 2-runs single, and Marcus Gonzalez capped with a game-tying single.
With Brock Pettit taking over from fellow righthander Cardona during the inning, Nevada edged back in front with a run in the fifth. The Griffons then picked up two more off the reliever in the sixth to lead Chillicothe three runs in arrears again at 7-4 heading to the seventh.
Jack Grace was hit by a pitch to begin the Mudcats’ seventh and Gonzalez’s third hit advanced him to second with one out. A wild pitch then put both in scoring position, allowing Tate Wargo’s groundout to narrow the gap to two. When a Griffons infielder didn’t handle Dom Trevino’s 2-outs grounder cleanly, another run came in, leaving the Fish behind only 7-6.
After Pettit worked a scoreless seventh, helped by a couple of Griffons getting cut down on the bases, Merritt touched off his second blast of the season following a 1-out walk to Blaine Ray, positioning Pettit (1-0) for the victory.
Chandler Griggs tossed the bottom of the eighth, working out of a 2-on, no-outs jam without surrendering the lead. Metcalf’s long ball after a leadoff walk to Wargo and Eickhoff’s 1-out single in the top of the ninth provided welcome breathing room which ultimately proved critical when the Griffons got a double and RBI single from their first two batters against new pitcher Jack McNellis in their ninth. The Chillicothe righthander got squared away after that, getting a fly out and a game-ending double play to preserve the win.
Statistically, in addition to the multi-RBI performances of Metcalf, Welch, and Merritt, Chillicothe’s Eickhoff went three for five to raise his average to a scorching .448. Gonzalez’s three hits lifted his season average to .379.
The contest was the second in three road games in which the Fish had slugged two home runs. Merritt and Gonzalez went deep at Clarinda a week ago tonight.
Nevada, which matched the Mudcats’ 13 hits, was led by Skinner’s three runs driven in on his triple and leadoff man Clint Allen’s three hits.