Sixth-straight Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats Win Takes 24 Hours, Gets Them to .500

Suspended Friday game completed early Saturday evening, closes as 10-7 Fish win before rainout

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
2021 Chillicothe (Mo.) Mudcats infielder Petey Taylor helps key what proved to be a decisive 4-runs top of the seventh inning with a would-be sacrifice bunt that he positioned so well it went for a basehit Saturday. The run helped the hosts build a 10-5 lead over Jefferson City in the game, which had been suspended, due to lightning, prior to the start of the seventh inning Friday (July 9). When Jeff City scored twice in the ninth, the Mudcats' big seventh turned out to be decisive in the 10-7 triumph. Saturday's regularly-scheduled game made it only through a half-inning before being rained out.

By PAUL STURM, C-T/LCL Sports Editor

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — The streaking Chillicothe Mudcats college-level baseball team started Saturday (July 10) with a suspended game to complete. They ended it the same way, but, in the interim, the Fish did manage to successfully complete a weeks-long struggle to get back to the surface of their MINK League “pond.”

Possessors of a fast-sinking 5-11 overall record as June gave way to July, the Mudcats returned to their “Chuck” Haney Field home in “June” Shaffer Memorial Park Stadium earlier than normal Saturday evening to closed out a 10-7 victory over the visiting Jefferson City Renegades that had begun the previous night.

With play suspended Friday, due to lightning, with Chillicothe having just reclaimed the lead at 6-4 with two sixth-inning runs, the Mudcats fought off the Renegades’ quick bid to tie the game as it recommenced in the top of the seventh just before 6 p.m. Saturday and countered with four runs of its own in the bottom half to create some breathing room.

Jeff City did take one last charge at the Mudcats, scoring twice in the top of the ninth and having the potential tying run in the batter’s box before the home team officially squared its overall 2021 record at 11-11 with a sixth triumph in a row.

The opportunity to move over .500 overall, to .500 in the league, and to notch a seventh-consecutive victory a short time later Saturday was thwarted by the weather once more.

The top of the first inning was completed, with the Renegades being retired in order by Chillicothe starting pitcher Logan Snow, when again lightning from approaching storm clouds prompted the halting of the action. Unlike Friday night, the storm soon swept over Chillicothe, rather than skirting it, and within about five minutes precipitation that soon became a downpour required the suspension to become part of a full-blown postponement.

Because Jefferson City has no more scheduled visits to Chillicothe (or vice versa) and because a number of prior postponements have been reset for essentially every available opening on the regular-season league calendar. That could lead to the mostly-unplayed game eventually transitioning to a cancellation, it was indicated.

Thanks to the washout of Saturday’s originally-scheduled contest, the Mudcats’ challenge for adding to their string of wins – still three short of equaling the team record set in 2008 and matched in 2012 – will be a stiff one, weather permitting.

The team is due to visit dominant North Division leader Clarinda, Iowa, for a 7 p.m. game Sunday. Rained out of a Saturday night game at St. Joseph themselves, the A’s own a staggering 20-3 league record and 25-4 overall mark, including conquests in 19 of their last 20 total games. The Mudcats are 0-3 against the league’s oldest team this season.

As play in Friday’s suspended game resumed Saturday, with the Mudcats having turned over the pitching chores to right-handed pitcher Jake Young, Jefferson City hitters greeted him rudely.

A first-pitch double to left-center field, a successful sacrifice bunt, and Tommy Ruether’s booming triple to deep, straightaway center field quickly halved the 2-runs lead and had the Renegades only 90 feet away from a tie.

Young, however, bowed his neck and got a full-count strikeout of the No. 3 batter in the Jeff City lineup and a second-pitch fly out from the cleanup man to keep his team in front.

The hitters immediately showed their appreciation in the bottom half.

Facing a new Jefferson City pitcher, Lucas Loos drew a 5-pitches walk and Tanner Sears a 4-balls pass. Following a wild pitch on which both moved up a base, lefty-swing Greyson Barrett solved the Renegades lefthander for a sharp, bouncing single up the middle, giving the hosts an 8-5 lead.

Making a quick pitching change to another southpaw, the visitors didn’t get any immediate relief.

Jaxon Hotta accepted a 5-pitches walk and Petey Taylor’s perfectly-paced and -placed, would-be sacrifice bunt toward third base turned into a bases-loading hit.

With still no outs, a shallow popup down the right-field line by Payton Allen landed uncaught for a run-scoring single and 9-5 gap. Although the first out was made by the next batter, Braedyn Brewer was plunked by a pitch on the second pitch he saw, earning him a bruise and a run batted in.

That turned out to be the end of the Mudcats’ scoring, but it proved to be enough to notch the “W,” even though they cut it close.

One of Chillicothe’s top hitters through the first half of the season, Josh Swinehart, was sent to the mound to make his debut there to start the top of the eighth.

Within six pitches, he surrendered to sharp singles, but then caught an “at ’em” ball break when first baseman Sears leaped and caught a line drive which he easily converted into a double play by tagging the Renegades runner at first.

His confidence boosted, Swinehart then posted a strikeout to keep the lead at 10-5.

The ninth saw the first two Jeff City batters reach base again, but this time a pitching change resulted with Swinehart returning to the right field post at which he’d begun the game and evening. Summoned to the hill from shortstop was Allen, who was making his second appearance as a pitcher.

He slowed the opponent with a pair of fly outs from the first two men he faced, but a walk loaded the bases and a single to right brought the potential tying run to the plate in a 10-6 game.

A wild pitch cut the spread to three, but Allen rang up the batter on a swinging strike three to earn his first save and let his team slip away with win No. 6 in succession.

Statistically, overall for the Fish in the game, Brewer went two for four with three runs batted in and Brewer continued emerging from his long funk with a 2-for-5 outing with two runs driven in. Zack Stewart had two runs driven in during Friday’s play and Sears stroked a hit each night.

On the mound, six pitchers were used – three each evening – with Myles Janson (1-2) notching the victory with a shaky, but scoreless, sixth inning in which he struck out three. Allen picked up his initial save.

Jefferson City, right in the thick of the MINK South Division race despite a 12-14 league mark and 13-14 overall ledger, was led by DH Hamilton Anderson’s 4-for-6 performance which featured one RBI. Andrew Paten added three hits and a walk and two other teammates had two hits each.

However, the game’s most-critical stat was the whopping 17 Renegades left on base. Four times the visitors left the bases full.