Pitching Buys Time for Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats’ Bats to Pull Out 6-4 Win
Pass St. Joseph with four runs in seventh Saturday, add pair in ninth to back Snow’s, Shapiro’s sharp hill work
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats college-level, wood-bat baseball team gave itself extra reason to celebrate during the last half of the Independence Day holiday weekend Saturday night.
Attempting to revive their 2021 season after a woeful and wet June, the Mudcats received continued excellent pitching and finally broke through at the plate in the final three innings to overtake the host St. Joseph Mustangs and post a 6-3 MINK League victory at Phil Welch Stadium and move to 2-0 thus far in July.
With right-handed starting pitcher Logan Snow and lefty reliever Joe Shapiro dividing the mound chores 50-50 – Snow threw the first 4-1/3 innings, allowing one earned run, and Shapiro the last 4-2/3, surrendering one hit and no runs, Chillicothe (7-11, 6-11 MINK) stayed within range until its hitters flourished in the last third of the contest.
Following an always-troublesome, inning-opening base on balls to No. 8 batter Payton Allen in the top of the seventh inning of a 3-0 game it led since the second, St. Joseph saw string together three hits in a row, doubling its total from the first six frames, to close to within a run.
Zack Stewart’s double after Allen’s free pass was cashed in by new leadoff man Max Huntley with a 2-runs single to put the Fish on the scoreboard. A double by Braedyn Brewer put the potential tying run at third and go-ahead run in scoring position at second, still with no outs, knocking out starting San Jose hurler Drake Kanallakan.
Coming off a game against the Mustangs at home two nights before in which he twice stroked sacrifice flies, Chillicothe outfielder Josh Swinehart greeted new pitcher Will Hann with a well-struck fly ball to right field sufficiently deep enough to score the swift Huntley.
However, conceding the tie, the Ponies’ right fielder tried to nab the speedy Brewer attempting to advance to third with one out after the catch. However, his throw bounced past the third baseman at the bag and went to the wall in foul territory about 40-50 feet away. With the pitcher having moved to back up a possible throw to the plate, leaving no Mustang backing up the play at third, Brewer quickly sprang to his feet and dashed home without a throw. Thanks to a bit of assistance from the home team, Swinehart’s fly ball had not only tied the game, but put Chillicothe on top for the first time at 4-3.
With Shapiro (Glenview, Ill./Western Michigan U.) in the process of retiring the last 10 St. Joseph batters in succession to earn the win, the Mudcats maintained the 1-run lead through the bottom of the seventh and eighth before some 2-outs “lightning” in the ninth tacked on some insurance.
Following Huntley’s third hit of the game – a 1-out single, his steal of second, and a runner-advancing groundout to second base in the top of the ninth, Swinehart knocked in his second run of the evening with a 2-outs basehit. A hit batsman and a Tanner Sears hit brought Swinehart around with the sixth and final Chillicothe run of the contest.
The Mudcats’ sizable seventh inning was necessary because the team had failed to glove cleanly a couple of times in the St. Joseph second.
With one out, Snow issued the second of his three bases on balls in the Mustangs’ second. A double followed immediately. When ground ball toward the second baseman was not handled, the home team had a 1-0 lead and a chance to post a crooked number.
With runners at the corners, Snow gloved a ball hit back to the mound and managed to cut down the lead man trying to score, but the Mustangs managed to post a second run with aggressive baserunning and a third on a dropped fly ball in center field.
The Chillicothe starting pitcher tempted trouble again in the third, giving up consecutive singles to create another threat. However, Sears bailed him out by gunning down the runner from first base trying to steal for a second out and then, after a walk, a force play left a man at third.
From then on, Snow and Shapiro shackled St. Joe on two hits and three baserunners the final si innings, buying time the Mudcats’ offense finally utilized.
Statistically, Shapiro’s superb stint in relief shared the game’s spotlight with Huntley’s 3-for-5, 2-runs, 2-RBI performance with the stick and Swinehart’s second-straight 2-RBI contest as part of a 1-for-3 night.
Taking over during the bottom of the fifth, Shapiro (1-0) walked his first assignment of the evening, but then erased him in a double play and went on to set down 14 of the last 15 Ponies he faced.
Chillicothe out-hit St. Joseph 9-7 and received six walks plus a hit batter to the Mustangs’ four free passes. That led to the Mudcats’ stranding nine runners to six left aboard by the home team. St. Joe made only one error to Chillicothe’s two. All three errors led to unearned runs.
By tacking on Saturday’s triumph to Thursday’s over St. Joseph, the Mudcats prevailed in back-to-back outings for only the third time thus far in 2021.
They’ll try for their first 3-games win streak Tuesday, July 5, when the Des Moines, Iowa: Peak Performers visit “June” Shaffer Memorial Park Stadium in Chillicothe for a 5 p.m. doubleheader. Those two currently are locked in a tight battle for the third and final playoffs spot in the MINK League postseason.