The Sedalia Bombers got six strong innings from starter Robert Greco and six runs in the first three innings from the hitters in a 9-1 win over Joplin on Friday at Dey Field at Liberty Park Stadium.
Greco needed just 76 pitches to pick up his third win of the summer, striking out seven and walking no one.
“Getting first-pitch strikes across I think was pretty key,” he said.
“Defense helped me a lot and (Cody) Webster, our catcher, was calling a great game, and I think that’s what made it successful. Keeping batters off balance, I think that was key and he did a great job of that.”
Webster said Greco told him before the game that he wasn’t feeling well, but Greco showed no signs of struggling on the mound.
“When you’re feeling like that, you’ve got to really keep the ball low in the zone and work on pitching to their weaknesses and your strengths,” Webster said. “What really was huge for him was getting the slider, pitching backwards pretty much. He didn’t have the strongest stuff, but you’ve got to work with what you have and that’s exactly what he did.”
In the first inning, Outlaws lead-off hitter Zac Stewart reached on an error but was soon thrown out by Bombers catcher Webster. Greco then struck out the next two hitters.
Greco pitched one-two-three innings in the second, third and fourth.
Stewart flew out to lead off the fourth inning; he was the only Outlaw to get the ball out of the infield the first four innings.
“He was working in and out with his fastball and when you do that you win ballgames,” said Bombers manager Jud Kindle.
Greco took a no-hitter into the fifth when Joplin scratched out a pair of singles. A double play ended that inning, but the Outlaws got one run back in the top of the sixth as Colton Korkonski scored on a fielder’s choice.
Reliever Danny Chambliss made his Bombers debut, working a one-two-three seventh before allowing a pair of baserunners in the eighth. He got out of the inning with no runs scoring.
“He spots in and out with his fast ball,” Kindle said. “He sits 84, 86 with a good curve and he mixes his pitches.”
The Bombers broke the game open with a four-run first inning. Zack Weigel started things off with a double over the head of Outlaws’ center fielder Austin McClain. A single by Nick DeLorenzo scored Weigel. With two outs, Ty White blooped a ball into center field that McClain dove for but missed as DeLorenzo raced home. The next batter was Curtiss Bunch who grounded to short, but the shortstop threw a one-hopper to first which the first baseman couldn’t handle and Tony Sandifer and White scored.
“They were nice and relaxed,” Kindle said of his hitters. “They weren’t trying to do too much, they were just trying to go with a good approach and hit the ball up the middle.”
They added another run in the second when DeLorenzo hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Weigel and another in the third on a single by Webster to drive home White.
Joplin relief pitcher Trey Watson held the Bombers off the board in the fifth and sixth innings before his Crowder teammate Webster broke through in the seventh with a two-run homer to left to make it 8-1.
“First pitch was a ball, next pitch was a strike and I was thinking ‘slider’s coming,’ ” Webster said. “I saw a dead-red slider and just hung it. I felt good. It hit right on the sweet spot on the bat. I caught him, so I know his tendencies, I know what he’s going to come with, I know that the ball’s going to do. I knew he was going to put it right there. I hate to say it, because he’s a good friend of mine. It’s bittersweet.”
The Bombers added another run in the eighth. DeLorenzo led off with a double and scored on a wild pitch.
The Bombers will continue the series with Joplin at 7 p.m. Saturday at Liberty Park Stadium.
Joplin at Bombers
7 p.m. Saturday at Liberty Park Stadium
Bombers at Clarinda
7 p.m. Sunday