Preston Tarkington struck out 12 in nine innings and Cody White singled in Aaron Meyer to walk off with a 1-0 win against the Branson Nationals Wednesday at Dey Field at Liberty Park.
Meyer hit a one-out single and Jonathan Ramon walked before White’s single gave the Bombers its third 1-0 win in a row and a four game lead over the Joplin Outlaws in the MINK League South Division with five games left.
“Never had a walk-off,” White said. “First one ever. It was a blessing. I knew the curveball was coming. I just tried to sit back and drive it.”
Tarkington struck out eight batters in the first four innings, including striking out the side in the fourth inning. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Kolby Follis broke it up with a two-out single to center field.
“t was just a good game all around,” Tarkington said. “I felt like I had a pretty good outing, but we just scratched and fought all night. That’s on our offense.”
Tarkington threw 109 pitches and retired the Nationals in order six times.
“That’s the longest I’ve been in for a long time,” Tarkington said. “It’s a little harder on my body. When you get a little older it gets a little harder.”
Bombers manager Jud Kindle said he was amazed by Tarkington’s performance, but knew he had it in him.
“We knew what we were getting when we got Tark,” he said. “SEC pitcher from Ole Miss. He’s a lot more polished than he was last summer. He gave us nine strong. Got ahead of almost every hitter.”
For the Nationals, Conner Matson pitched six scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out three. Gage Jacobs allowed one base runner in his first two innings of relief, but gave up the walk-off in the ninth.
The Nationals had a chance to score in the top of the ninth inning, but Follis was stranded at second base.
The Bombers’ had chances to score in the second, fifth and sixth innings. Jess Cartner hit a lead-off single in the second inning, but ended up stranded at third base.
White reached on a fielder’s choice and Shain Showers walked with two outs in the fifth inning, but they ended up being stranded on second and third.
Cartner and Jordan Dey each walked with two outs in the sixth inning, but Meyer grounded out to end the inning.
The Bombers are 27-12 with five games remaining in the regular season. They play at the Nevada Griffons tonight through Saturday before closing out the regular season at home Monday and Tuesday.