Sizzling MINK League Leaders Fry Fish 15-5 in Eight Innings Monday

Chillicothe Mudcats lose early at Clarinda, Iowa, by 10-runs rule; third such loss in last five games

As reported to C-T

CLARINDA, Iowa — With the home team riding a 10-games winning streak and the visitors having dropped six of their last seven games, Monday’s MINK League baseball meeting of the Clarinda A’s and Chillicothe Mudcats didn’t seem to offer much advance intrigue about its eventual outcome.

The actual competition on Merl Eberly Field at Clarinda’s Municipal Stadium didn’t contradict the anticipation.

Facing a Chillicothe lineup arguably absent five of its top six hitters, a defensive alignment with more than one starter at a position he hadn’t previously occupied, and a position player making his first appearance of the summer as a pitcher – and as the starter, the A’s erased a 2-1 deficit with a 5-runs second and cruised on to hand the Mudcats their third “run-rule” loss in the past five games, 15-5.

North Division leader Clarinda’s 11th triumph in succession elevated its league record to 12-2 and its overall mark to an astounding 17-3. Chillicothe, last in the North, dropped to 5-10 overall and 4-10 in league action.

The Mudcats will be idle until Thursday night when they’re scheduled for the first of three home games in three nights with Joplin the opponent. The Outlaws will stick around for a Friday night game, as well, before Sedalia calls at “Chuck” Haney Field in “June” Shaffer Memorial Park Stadium Saturday evening.

According to Chillicothe head coach Tyler Hudlow, lefthander Scott Duensing is expected to make the start on the mound Thursday.

On the heels of superb back-to-back starting-pitching performances from Koby Linder and Jack Young, Hudlow surprisingly chose the clash against the league leaders to employ his team’s top power hitter and run producer thus far, Greyson Barrett, as a pitcher for the first time against the red-hot A’s.

Not surprisingly, the Californian – serving in the unique college-level role of both starting pitcher and designated hitter – was not particularly sharp nor successful with his deliveries, although he could have had a better fate with solid defensive backup.

Lasting only three innings, he allowed runs in each and faced 23 batters in that short span.

Immediately handed a 2-0 lead to work with when Max Huntley singled home Payton Allen and Zack Stewart with two outs in the top of the first inning, Barrett – a left-handed batter, but right-handed thrower – retired the second and third batters of the Clarinda first after allowing a leadoff single, but couldn’t escape unscathed. A’s DH Taylan Mullins-Ohm began what would become a 4-for-5, 6-RBI night (plus a walk) with a run-scoring single to cut the Chillicothe lead in half.

In the bottom of the second, an inning-opening strikeout was followed by a booted ground ball to shortstop which eventually would lead to three unearned runs.

The miscue was followed by a walk, a game-tying double by the No. 9 batter in the A’s lineup, another base on balls to load the bases, and a lead-seizing, 2-runs double over the left fielder’s head by Travis Welker. After another strikeout which should have been the third out, Mullins-Ohm singled home two more markers for a 6-2 Clarinda lead.

After the Fish got a single unearned run of their own in the third, driven in by Blake Falor’s 2-outs double down the left-field line, the Iowa team tacked on two more runs against Barrett – both crossing the plate on bases-loaded walks to lead 8-3 after three.

The Mudcats narrowed their deficit back to four in the fourth with another error-fueled run, delivered by Lucas Loos’ 2-outs single, and, thanks to relief pitcher Cole Mammenga’s scoreless work in the fourth and fifth, were in a position to take a real shot at catching up in the sixth.

The top of the sixth began with P. Allen, who made his first appearance of the summer in left field, smack his second single of the game into center field. When he moved to second on a wild pitch and Stewart singled him to third, the Fish had MINK League RBI leader Barrett coming up as he had switched into the DH ’s role after leaving the hill, followed by one of its hottest recent hitters – Huntley – and Loos, who already was two for three due to follow.

At the often-charitable-to-hitters stadium, a big inning and close game could result with one swing of the bat by any of them, but that didn’t work out.

A ground ball hit by Barrett scored Allen, earning Barrett his league-high 21st run driven in, while Stewart was being forced out at second and a low throw trying to double up the batter eluded the first baseman. That missed defensive opportunity quickly was rectified, however, when Huntley bounced into an inning-ending pair, limiting Chillicothe to only a single run in the inning and still a 3-runs deficit, 8-5.

That missed chance seemed to deflate the guests and boost the hosts, who capitalized on not only back-to-back walks to start the bottom of the sixth, but also not one, not two, but three Mudcats errors in the inning to post five unearned runs which effectively put the game out of reach.

Up 13-5 heading to the seventh, the only uncertainty appeared to be whether the Mudcats could avoid their third early setback by the 10-runs-lead rule since the previous Thursday or not. In a sense, the answer proved to be no and yes.

Third Chillicothe hurler Joe Shapiro, who had come on in the sixth to allow a run-scoring single before getting the last out, worked a 1-2-3 seventh to prevent a third 7-innings defeat in five games.

However, in the eighth, Shapiro was removed with runners at first and second and two outs, seemingly to give fellow Western Michigan University hurler Jake Gernon a chance to get a positive mindset going after general ineffectiveness in his previous outings.

However, with a chance to force the game to a regulation ninth inning by retiring one batter, the righthander instead was touched for consecutive singles by Mullins-Ohm, who earned run batted in No. 6 on the evening, and previously-hitless Jeff Clarke. Clarke’s hit scored Welker from second with the game-halting 15th Clarinda run.

The 15-5 Chillicothe defeat followed a pair of 16-6 7-innings losses at Joplin last week.

Statistically, virtually all of the “good” numbers belonged to the early league leaders from southern Iowa.

Collectively, the A’s out-hit the Mudcats 12-9, but also benefitted from a 9-4 advantage in walks received, as well as two hit batsmen. The winners also turned five Chillicothe errors into eight unearned runs, while the Mudcats converted an equal number of A’s misplays into only two tallies.

Individually, in addition to Mullins-Ohm’s huge night, Welker drove in five runs himself while doubling twice, walking twice, and scoring three runs. Leadoff man Mason Maners scored four times and the bottom third of the Clarinda lineup, while it had only three combined hits, accepted four bases on balls and twice reached on errors, leading to those three players scoring more than half (eight) of the team’s runs.

The best stats Chillicothe mustered were the previously-struggling Loos’ 3-for-4 game with the bat, including a double and a run batted in, Allen’s 2-for-4, 2-runs outing, Huntley’s two RBI, and Mammenga’s 2-2/3-innings stint with no earned runs allowed. Had Shapiro not been replaced, he might well have gone 2-1/3 scoreless innings, but, instead, he was charged with two runs – both earned – in two innings of work.

The Mudcats’ lineup was minus four of five team members who, prior to the contest, owned batting averages of .300 or higher. Missing the action were Tanner Sears, Wes Brandsgaard, Josh Swinehart, and still-injured Braedyn Brewer.