The Sedalia Bombers won one for the love of the game — and to stay in contention for the MINK League South Division title.
The Bombers overcame a 4-0 first-inning deficit Saturday night to beat the Chillicothe Mudcats 9-5 at Liberty Park Stadium-Dey Field.
After Saturday’s win, the Bombers are three games behind first-place Nevada in the South with six games remaining. St. Joseph beat Nevada 2-1 in 14 innings Saturday.
“Last night (after the Bombers’ 13-1 loss to St. Joseph), coach (Jud Kindle) came out to us and told us we just have to have fun. It’s a game we’ve played since we were little kids,” Curtiss Bunch, who went 2 for 3 with a walk and three runs scored in Saturday’s game, said. “It made us more relaxed. I think we were a little tight at the plate (lately). We were staying through the ball (Saturday). They gave us some good pitches, and we took advantage.”
Mylz Jones went 4 for 5 with a double, two RBIs and one run scored, and Nick DeLorenzo added two hits.
“We just needed to relax,” Kindle said. “Starting off with a 4-0 deficit isn’t the easiest way to relax, but our guys did a good job of pounding hits. We hit well (Friday) night. We had 12 hits. We just did better in certain situations.”
The Bombers went 8 for 15 (.533) with runners in scoring position and drove in two runs with two-out hits.
With a mostly left-handed hitting lineup, the Bombers pounded Chillicothe left-hander Collin Sherrod for seven runs — five earned — on 10 hits with two walks and five strikeouts in four innings.
The winning pitcher, Jordan Knutson, yielded five runs — two earned — on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts in six innings.
Sedalia left fielder Ty White made a couple of big catches for reliever Brett Thomas, who struck out four over three scoreless innings to pick up the save, in the eighth.
Leading off, Tanner Bily crushed a pitch to left field, but White made an over-the-shoulder catch at the fence.
The next batter, Tyler Langley, ripped a pitch to left for what many thought would be a home run. However, White made a leaping catch at the fence to rob him of an extra-base hit.
“That could’ve been a big inning for them,” Kindle said. “We had a very solid defensive inning by White.”
Knutson faced eight batters in the first inning, permitting four runs — one earned — on five hits with no walks and one strikeout.
Errors by center fielder Zack Wiegel and catcher Cody Webster helped fuel the fire.
Knutson settled down for the next five innings to give his team a chance.
“He started to get the ball down in the zone,” Kindle said. “He really didn’t have his off-speed stuff tonight, but he was able to get (three) double plays.”
The Bombers sliced their deficit in half with two runs in the second. Zach Lavy, Bunch and White each singled. Jess Cartner flied out on a line drive to center field, driving in Lavy. Leadoff batter Wiegel’s two-out single to left made the score 4-2.
Austin Bello’s leadoff homer in the fourth stretched the Mudcats’ lead to 5-2.
The Bombers erupted for five runs in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth to take charge.
Sedalia strung together four hits and a walk and took advantage of an error by Sherrod in the fourth.
Bunch singled and scored on a base hit by Randy Medellin, Jones singled home Cartner, DeLorenzo brought home Medellin with a single, and Wiegel scored when Chillicothe right fielder Nathan Lukes overran DeLorenzo’s hit. Webster capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to center field.
The Bombers scored two against relief pitcher Brock Downey in the fifth. Bunch singled and scored on Wiegel’s sacrifice fly to center field, and White drew a walk and came home on Jones’ run-scoring double.
Notes: Catcher Christian Bunch is out with a pulled right hamstring. He wasn’t able to run Saturday. He is listed as day-to-day. ... The Bombers (20-16) will host the Mudcats (21-19) again at 7 p.m. Sunday. ... Sedalia has three games remaining against South Division foes: at Ozark on Monday, at Nevada on Thursday and at Nevada on Saturday.