It took one pitch for Brad Jelinek to make an impact Monday at Dey Field at Liberty Park. The former Warsaw Wildcat and current UCM Mule spending the summer playing for Branson homered to left on the first pitch of the game as the Nationals beat the Bombers 7-1.
“I was just swinging, (looking for a) base hit up the middle,” he said. “Not looking for a home run. That was my first one of the summer. Good way to start the game. I was glad my family was here to see it too.”
He added another RBI in the fourth, hitting a single up the middle to score Tyler Arthur and advancing all the way to third on the throw to the plate.
Jelinek then made an impact with his glove in the bottom of the first, making a diving grab on the outfield grass to rob Jarrod Perry of a bloop single.
“I took off for a dead sprint and saw my leftfielder mis-play it,” Jelinek said. “I kind of mis-played it a little bit and was lucky to get it in.”
After Jelinek’s first-inning blast, the next two Branson hitters both singled with Kolby Follis scoring on a wild pitch before Bombers pitcher John Osborne got out of the inning.
Osborne settled down in the second and third, allowing a lead-off walk in the second before retiring the next six. But the Nationals added to the lead in the fourth to drive Osborne from the mound as Garrett Mays tripled to the wall in right-center to score Brock Hammit. Andrew Kendrick immediately followed with a double off the wall to score Mays and Kendrick scored on a sacrifice fly. Jelinek capped off the four-run inning with his second RBI of the game.
“It wasn’t the best start by John, that didn’t help, but at the same time, we’ve got to do a little bit better job of making adjustments at the plate,” said Bombers manager Jud Kindle. “The fact that we clinched (the south division title), I think our guys played a little more lackadaisical. We need to get back to scrappy baseball.”
The Bombers bullpen held Branson in check until the Nationals added another run in the seventh.
The Bombers struggled to get the offense going. In the first, Jelinek’s diving catch was followed by a pair of groundouts. The Bombers also went down one-two-three in the second as Nationals pitcher Conner Matson retired the first seven he faced before walking Jonathan Ramon in the third.
Trey Hair was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth and took second on a wild pick-off attempt. He scored to put the Bombers on the board when Tony Sandifer reached on a two-out error.
Matson no-hit the Bombers through four innings before Jordan Dey broke through with a single to center to lead off the fifth. He worked seven innings and allowed one run on four hits. The Bombers offense managed just five hits in the game, all were singles.
“I think our approaches at the plate are a little better than they have been the last couple of days,” Kindle said. “We’re just not getting big doubles. Early in the season we were getting a lot of doubles.”
The Bombers will close the regular season tonight at 7 p.m. when they host Nevada. They open the MINK League championship series at home against St. Joseph on Wednesday at 7 p.m.