Brice Pannier delivered the game-winning hit, Bryan Taylor pitched six innings and the Bombers salvaged the last game of a three game series against the Joplin Outlaws, 5-4, Tuesday at Liberty Park Stadium.
Pannier knocked in the pinch-running Baxter Mays after Kyle Clayton walked and Brad Prebay bunted Mays to second base.
Taylor, making his last start of the season for the Bombers, struggled early. After a first inning jam, Taylor threw five consecutive innings without another run. Replaced by Peyton Seiz, Taylor recorded two strikeouts, no walks, and three runs in six innings pitched.
While an elbow injury prevented Taylor from pitching much for Nicholls St. in Louisiana, he had a solid season with the Bombers. In his two starts and three games pitched, Taylor recorded 13 strikeouts and five walks within 19 innings.
Taylor said playing with the Bombers helped him “get back into the swing of things.”
“Overall it was a really positive experience,” Taylor said. “I had a lot of fun, it’s a great group of guys and I’m glad we played some competitive baseball.”
Both sides of play for the Outlaws were on fire Tuesday night. The team started with four runs on three hits in the first frame, while starting pitcher, Gavin Kinney, had two strikeouts and a ground out in the bottom of the first.
Kinney did not allow a hit until the third inning. Prebay ended the no-hit bid with a strong double into center field, but the Bombers were unable to use it to their advantage.
In the bottom of the fourth, Alex Hoff got down the line quick enough to beat out a routine ground ball hit to Outlaws shortstop, David Butterfield. Outlaws third baseman, John Prudhom, robbed Dalton Bealmer of a line drive to keep the Bombers scoreless through four innings.
It was just another one of those innings where the Bombers could not take advantage of their baserunners. It was something they struggled with the entire series, stranding a combined 19 runners over three games.
The Bombers (16-13) caught a lucky break in the top of the fifth, when Donovan Sutti was called for interference from a throw by Blaine Hardy to second. Then, the offense exploded. It started with a double hit into left field by Brendon Davis. Then Kinney and Ryan Lorber, Joplin’s respective pitcher and catcher, began to struggle.
Hardy was hit by a pitch and Lorber followed with his first passed ball of the game. Kinney then walked Prebay and soon after Lorber could not hold on to another wild pitch by Kinney, which allowed the Bomber’s first run of the game.
After a run-scoring chopper by Pannier, AJ Gardner came in clutch with a two-run RBI double putting the Bombers in the lead, 4-3.
By the bottom of the sixth, the Outlaws (20-17, 14-16 MINK) needed a change. Kinney was replaced by right handed pitcher Josh Bortka. Bortka struggled at first, but was able to hold off the Bombers. The Outlaws defense committed an error allowing Hardy an unearned double. Following this event Bortka hit Kyle Clayton with a pitch. However, with two runners on base, Bortka was able to strike out a batter, ending the threat.
The Outlaws offense stepped up in the eighth inning. After a double by Sutti and a single by Marcos Villegas, a sacrifice fly into center allowed Sutti to tag and score from third, tying the game at four.
With the end of the regular season near, and only a few games left until the postseason, the standings are essentially locked for the top three teams. The St. Joseph Mustangs lead the Chillicothe Mudcats, who are 6 games behind. Next are the Sedalia Bombers with a larger deficient of 9 1/2 games. The Clarinda A’s, 17 games out of first on Tuesday, are last in the North Division.
The Bombers continue Wednesday at Chillicothe.