Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats' Snow Ices Nevada Bats, Barrett Plates Three More in 7-2 MINK League win June 11

Chillicothe college-level summer baseball team squares league record, goes above .500 overall for first time in early going of 2021 season

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Chillicothe Mudcats starting pitcher Logan Snow (Belmont, Calif./Menlo College) makes an early-innings pitch during his very effective and winning start in the team's 7-2 home victory over the Nevada (Mo) Griffons in MINK League baseball Friday, June 11, 2021. Snow held Nevada hitless until the sixth inning, although he did drill a handful of them with pitches on his way to earning his first Fish win.
  • Nevada did not get its first hit off Chillicothe starting hurler until sixth inning, finished with four
  • Barrett hikes season RBI total to 17 in first seven games

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

After a fast finish to their 10-9 victory over Sedalia at Trenton two nights earlier, the Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats summer college-level baseball team carried over their scoring vibe into Friday’s (June 11) home game with the Nevada (Mo.) Griffons.

Combined with their starting pitcher not surrendering a hit until the sixth inning, that led to a second-straight victory.

While Fish hurler Logan Snow was holding the Griffons hitless through a handful of frames, the Mudcats (4-3, 3-3 league) were ripping 13 hits off tall (6’11”) Griffons left-handed starting pitcher Will Jacobson in that same stretch. They generated seven runs with their baker’s-dozen hits and additional walks, leading to an eventual 7-2 MINK League victory.

The triumph elevated the Chillicothe team above .500, overall-record-wise, this season and to the break-even mark in league competition for the first time.

Mudcats right-handed pitcher Conner Fletcher from Meadville, less than a month out of high school, will make his second start for the Fish Saturday at 7:05 p.m. when the same squads clash again at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park Stadium. Fletcher had a solid no-decision in his first outing and start last Saturday.

Following Saturday’s play at Shaffer Park Stadium’s “Chuck” Haney Field, the Mudcats are scheduled for five league road games in a row next week, beginning Monday at Jefferson City. Their next slated game in Chillicothe is Sunday, June 20 – a 5:05 p.m. game against defending MINK League champion St. Joseph.

Although he did allow Nevada (4-4, 4-4 league) an earned run in the second inning with a walk, back-to-back hit batsmen, and a sacrifice fly, Snow (Belmont, Calif./Menlo College) blinded Griffons batters to getting the “sweet spot” of their sticks squarely on his pitches.

As a result, he returned to the hill for the top of the sixth inning with just over 70 pitches thrown and none of them struck for a base hit.

That distinction ended when the third batter of the Nevada sixth, cleanup hitter Connor Wytko, smacked a hard ground ball back up the middle and into center field for a hit.

The last of Snow’s unfortunate handful of hit batters and a 2-outs single to left field produced a second Griffons run off the Chillicothe starting pitcher, but he got his ninth strikeout at the expense of the next batter to leave the bases loaded and turn over a 7-2 lead to subsequent Mudcats relief pitchers.

Head coach Tyler Hudlow received a scoreless inning apiece from lefthander Joe Shapiro and righthanders Jake Young and Myles Janson in the non-save situation to close out the Fish’s second victory in four home contests.

After Snow struck out two in the top of the first inning, his teammates rapidly gave him a lead to work with next time he toed the rubber.

Braedyn Brewer sent a 1-out ground ball through the middle for a 1-out hit. When Josh Swinehart swatted a high, opposite-field drive which surprisingly carried over the right fielder’s head, Brewer was on his way to score without a throw and Swinehart was heading for third with a likely triple when Brewer lost his footing rounding third base.

As he scrambled to his feet and continued toward home plate about 60 feet away, the relay throw came to the Nevada catcher well before his pending arrival. Seeing that, he braked and moved back toward third with the catcher in pursuit and Swinehart reversing course and retreating toward second.

Before long, the Nevada receiver had held the ball too long before flipping it to the third baseman at that bag and Brewer’s hand-first dive let him get back safely.

Having been trapped between third base and home plate after stumbling and falling while trying to score on Josh Swinehart's long double to right field, Chillicothe Mudcat Braedyn Brewer dives back to third and would reach it safely during the first inning of the Fish's 7-2 home victory over the Nevada (Mo) Griffons in MINK League baseball Friday, June 11, 2021. Brewer soon scored the game's first  run as his safe return helped salvage the inning for the home team.

That meant Chillicothe’s top run producer – by a wide margin – thus far, Greyson Barrett, would bat with a pair of Fish like ducks on the pond at second and third.

They didn’t stay there long. After swinging and missing at the first pitch from Jacobson, Barrett won the lefty-vs.-lefty duel with a line-drive single through the hole into right field which handily scored both runners for a 2-0 lead.

Snow then had his wild – and painful for a couple of Griffons whose bodies absorbed his deliveries – second inning, but preserved the lead at 2-1 by again getting the third out of the inning on strikes.

Having had eight batters step in during the opening inning, Chillicothe was back at the top of its lineup after the first batter was retired in the home half of the second. That soon translated to two more runs.

Leadoff man Allen (Bentonville, Ark./U. of Kansas) pulled a hit inside the third-base bag and down the left-field line for a stand-up double and scurried to third on a groundout to the shortstop. From there, he darted home as Swinehart beat out a slow roller toward the hole on the left side, making it 3-0, Mudcats.

Barrett then bombed high drive to nearly-straightaway center field which he seemed to assume either would go over the wall 400 feet away or fall short and be caught, as he walked out of the batter’s box toward first base for about the first 15-20 feet. At that point, seeing the Griffons’ center fielder still racing toward the fence, Barrett sped up enough that, when the ball landed uncaught at the base of the fence before the pursuing outfielder could arrive, he could easily trot into second base with a double. With Swinehart “on his horse” on contact, since there were two outs, he cruised home with the hosts’ fourth run of the ninth and Barrett’s amazing RBI No. 17 of the season. He’s knocked in 13 of the 17 in the last four games, including nine in two contests against Nevada.

Third-inning singles by Blake Falor, Jaxon Hotta, and – with two outs again – Allen put another run on the board for Chillicothe. In the fifth, a Hotta walk and Petey Taylor single to left which eluded the left fielder’s diving try to catch it put runners at second and third with one out as Hotta aggressively and smartly hustled on to third, drawing a throw and tag which let Taylor move up to second.

Allen’s groundout then plated Hotta and Brewer’s infield hit on a slow roller to shortstop that drew a too-low throw boosted the Mudcats’ margin to 7-1.

That proved to be more than enough for the pitching staff’s by-far best performance of the season to date to protect.

Showing approximately the form which led to his amassing a team-record 13 pitching wins during his 3-plus seasons with the Chillicothe (Mo) Mudcats college-level, summer baseball team, Caleb Bounds throws a ceremonial first pitch prior to the 2021 Mudcats' 7-2 home victory over the Nevada (Mo) Griffons Friday, June 11, 2021. Bounds had planned to return in 2021 for a third season as the Mudcats' head coach until he accepted a year-round, full-time coaching job at the Illinois junior college where he's been a part-time assistant for a couple of years.

On hand for the game was Caleb Bounds, former Mudcats head coach and career leader in pitching wins.

Saluted by the team prior to the game, including throwing a ceremonial first pitch, Bounds actually assembled the commitments to be Mudcats of the 2021 team last fall and winter in anticipation of a third season as the Fish's head coach. However, he received a full-time, year-round coaching offer from the Illinois junior college where he's been a part-time coach the past couple of years in early February and thus needed to relinquish his Mudcats duties.

Statistically, on offense, two increasingly-familiar and prominent names paced the Chillicothe attack.

Despite batting from the left side against the very tall Nevada southpaw, Mudcat Barrett singled in two runs in the first inning and doubled home another in the second. Although hitless the rest of the night, the Californian completed the team’s seventh game of the season – all of which he’s started – with 17 runs batted in.

That’s a clearly-unsustainable pace, but nevertheless – for context – a rate which mathematically would generate right at 100, if continued through all 41 games on the team’s regular-season schedule. The Mudcats’ single-season RBI record is 45.

Joining – and, in a way, surpassing Barrett’s night Friday – was Michigan resident Swinehart. He stroked a double and three singles and drew a walk in a perfect performance at the plate. He scored twice and drove in a run, in addition to stealing two bases.

Barrett’s 2-for-5 night actually lowered his batting average a few points to .407. Swinehart’s stats line boosted his average to .347.

Also having 2-hits games for the winners were Payton Allen, Brewer, and Petey Taylor, whose average rose to .367. Allen knocked in two more runs after having a critical 2-outs, 2-runs single in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s dramatic win over Sedalia at Trenton.

Nevada was limited to only four hits by the four Mudcats pitchers used. In a real rarity, the Griffons had more batters hit by pitches (five) than base hits. They also received five bases on balls, but left 11 runners on base, the same total as Chillicothe.

Each Mudcats hurler had a piece of the staff’s 14-K performance in the game.