2019 Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats fall 20-10 in eight innings after rallying to lead 9-8 in sixth inning June 11

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Outlaws stole the Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats’ thunder Tuesday night (June 11).
Authors of three come-from-behind wins in their first seven games of the 2019 season, the Mudcats seemed poised to do it once more in the opener of their 3-games series at Joplin’s Joe Becker Stadium when, after leading 3-0 early, they bolted back from an 8-3 deficit with five runs in the top of the sixth inning to lead by one.
However, the host Outlaws, who owned nary a MINK League victory in five prior tries entering the series, showed that two can play that comeback game.
While Chillicothe’s attack, by and large, did its job, its pitching did not, barely throwing as many strikes (124) as it did balls (102) while also surrendering 18 hits as Joplin rumbled to 20 runs and a 20-10 triumph. The carnage was halted in the eighth inning under the league’s 10-runs-lead rule, which can be put into use anytime after seven innings.
The Outlaws (5-6, 1-5 MINK), who began the night averaging 5.8 runs through 10 games, nearly quadrupled that against four Mudcats moundsmen – starter Jake Gill and relievers Garrett West, Tyler Ingram, and Collin Chalmers.
West (0-1) ended up with the loss after his teammates had given him a chance to gain the victory with their sixth-inning uprising.
Chillicothe and Joplin play at Joplin again tonight at 7 p.m. The Mudcats’ expected starting pitcher is recently-arrived Alex Crinigan, a big (6’5”, 250-pounds) righthander from Hampshire, Ill. It will be his debut with the team.
With Gill having surrendered eight hits and eight runs in 3-1/3 innings after Brady Welch’s run-scoring double, Brandan Settles’ RBI triple, and the first of four Marcus Gonzalez runs batted in had staked the starter to a 3-0 lead in the second inning, West replaced the starter during Joplin’s lead-seizing 5-runs fourth.
After the lefthander retired two of the four batters he faced in that inning, he worked a scoreless fifth after Nolan Metcalf’s groundout had plated Gonzalez in the top half.
In the top of the sixth, Jack Grace’s leadoff single and a 1-out hit batsman and base on balls brought Gonzalez to the plate representing the tying run. Among the team leaders in runs batted in despite routinely batting either near the top or bottom of the Chillicothe lineup, the second baseman once again showed a knack for big hits.
A pitch or two after the Joplin head coach decided to keep starting pitcher Malachi Crone in the game to try to get the Mudcats leadoff man, the Floridian laced a drive up the alley in left-center field for a bases-clearing double.
That kayoed Crone, bringing Austin Gottula in for the home team with a 1-run lead to try to preserve. After his first pitch, the game was tied and, after the second, Chillicothe (5-3, 5-3 MINK) led.
On the new hurler’s first delivery, the swift Gonzalez attempted to steal third base and drew a high throw that sailed into the outfield, allowing Gonzalez to not only swipe third, but go on home.
The next pitch to Blaine Ray was juicy and the Fish outfielder gulped it down, pounding a long drive well over the left-field fence to give the visitors back the lead at 9-8.
Sent back to the mound for what head coach Caleb Bounds hoped might be another successful inning or two, the first Chillicothe reliever instead disintegrated into the wild, wild West.
He hit the first batter in the Joplin sixth with a 1-2 pitch and, after an out and a game-tying single, walked consecutive batters, prompting his removal.
Second reliever Tyler Ingram’s early-season difficulties only worsened in his third outing, rather than improve.
His first pitch was roped for a tiebreaking, 2-runs single. He then wild-pitched home another run before giving up another hit.
Even when he did something good, something bad came of it. With runners on second and third in a 12-9 game, he got a strikeout, but the third strike was not caught cleanly. When the throw was made to first to retire the batter, the runner at third dashed home and the other man moved from second to third. The first of consecutive booted ground balls to shortstop tacked on a sixth run of the Joplin sixth.
With still four more innings to play, the 5-runs Chillicothe deficit – while not preferable – was hardly insurmountable , in light of the team’s early 2019 performances. When Joplin graciously provided the Fish with a dropped third strike of their own, a hit batsman, and two wild pitches, the gap narrowed to four and Ray was standing in against Gottula for a second time with runners on second and third bases and two outs.
In what likely was the crucial moment of the game, Gottula balanced his personal scales with Ray, freezing him with a breaking pitch for a called third strike. When only a single might have narrowed the margin back to two runs and sustained Chillicothe momentum, the strikeout kept the Mudcats at arm’s length.
By the time they batted in again, their deficit had doubled to eight. After they went down in order against a new Joplin pitcher, the Outlaws capitalized on two Collin Chalmers walks and a single to score twice in the bottom of the inning, terminating the contest an inning early and officially ending Chillicothe’s 3-games winning streak.
Statistically, Joplin not only raked the four Mudcats arms for 18 hits, but it also benefited from four Fish errors, 10 walks, and three hit batsmen. Leading the pounding were Marcos Villegas and Freilin Cabrera with four hits and three runs batted in each and Zack Ehlen with three hits and four RBI.
Gonzalez had two hits, two runs scored, and four runs driven in for Chillicothe. He now leads the club with 11 RBI, two more than Metcalf. Ray’s roundtripper – his first and the team’s fifth – was one of three hits he had.
While the Fish had 11 hits, they received only two walks, although they did get hit by pitches four times.