This story has been updated.
The Bombers slugged their way to a sixth win in seven tries Monday during a 12-6 victory over the Chillicothe Mudcats at Liberty Park Stadium.
Jake Lufft and AJ Gardner launched back-to-back homers with two outs in the fourth. Both were their second respective home runs of the season and both were grand slams — with the latter shot grand in terms of distance.
Lufft’s shot counted for four runs, Gardner’s drive traveled more than 400 feet and the Bombers led 9-2.
Gardner’s second home run departed for flight on a 1-2 curveball from Chandler Griggs. Two errors after the blast conceded an unearned run to increase the lead to 11-2. He tripled in the eighth and scored on a Dalton Bealmer sacrifice for the 12th Bombers run of the game.
Already demonstrating light-tower power for the Bombers, plate appearances from the Alabama State outfielder have become must-watch material at Liberty Park Stadium.
After redshirting his sophomore season, modest postgame fanfare from children and spectators has been a unique and enjoyable experience, Gardner said.
“It’s interesting,” Gardner said. “I like it a lot, actually…. It's something I've ever experienced before. It’s very humbling.”
Cole Young, who relieved starter Elijah Richeson after four innings, turned in three scoreless, one-hit frames. He struck out cleanup batter Chet Merritt looking to strand the bases loaded in the seventh. Tanner Beatty surrendered two runs in the eighth and Andrew Baker, after loading the bases, escaped with a two-run ninth.
Chillicothe (9-5) led by two runs before the Bombers stepped into the box. Attempting to catch a runner advancing two bases on a bloop single, the Bombers’ throw from the outfield found resulted in their 26th error of the season and the first run of the game.
Richeson bobbled a comebacker and a potential double-play ball off the bat of Blaine Ray, conceding a run on a putout at first.
Bealmer, who reached via one-out double, was at risk of being stranded before Mudcats starter Christhian Cardona lost touch with the strike zone. Two walks, a trio of wild pitches and a bases-loaded hit by pitch helped chase Cardona and put the Bombers ahead, 4-2.
Sedalia welcomed infielder Alex Hoff to the team Monday. He batted .238 with three home runs and eight doubles in 33 games during his sophomore year at Maryville University.
Hoff, most recently rostered in the collegiate wood bat Prospect League and previously a junior college ballplayer at Jefferson College, said he hopes to improve his approach at the plate this summer. After collecting 29 Ks in 105 at-bats in spring, Hoff is specifically combating strikeouts.
“Just seeing the ball deep with two strikes,” Hoff said. “Hitting the ball the other way, stuff like that.”
The Bombers (8-2) scored all their runs in the first inning of a 5-3 victory Saturday at Jefferson City. First baseman Cole Taylor doubled with two RBIs and starting pitcher Justin Root lasted seven innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. Brett Winkelman and Chase Hutson registered one scoreless inning each to preserve the final standing.
After a postponement Sunday, the Bombers are slated for a road doubleheader with Ozark 5 p.m. Wednesday at Meador Park in Springfield. Sedalia will settle a June 12 rainout with a twin bill Thursday, June 27 at Lyons Stadium in Nevada.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2.