In their first extra-inning game of 2023, the St. Joseph Mustangs picked up their first walk-off win of the summer Thursday. Playing as the Tenderloins, the Mustangs outlasted the Clarinda A’s 7-6 in 12 innings on second baseman Noah Bodenhausen’s single. With the dramatic win, St. Joe returned to first place in the M.I.N.K. League North Division.
After dropping 11 runs in game one of the series Wednesday, Clarinda kept its foot on the gas early in game two. The A’s put two runs on the board in the first, though the Mustangs felt no runs should have scored.
Clarinda’s first run came on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in which the runners on first and second also tagged and advanced. The Mustangs were adamant that neither baserunner actually returned to their base, but Clarinda exited the inning up 2-0.
That lead held up until the third when St. Joe flipped the game around with four runs. With two aboard and nobody out, center fielder Brayden Luikart ripped an RBI double to deep right-center field. Right fielder Trevor McCollum then evened the score with a groundout.
A defensive meltdown by the A’s would help St. Joe add two more runs. Designated hitter Ryan Callahan rolled over to first base, allowing Luikart to score from third and take the lead. Nobody covered the bag at first, yet the first baseman still flipped the ball in that direction. It bounced away into foul territory, springing Callahan to second. Left fielder Easton Bruce then moved Callahan to third with a flyout to center, but another careless throw to home plate skipped away and scored him.
The Mustangs’ lead held firm as left-hander Frank Gall settled into his start. He ended the fifth with a ground ball double play before striking three in the sixth. Gall departed with six innings pitched, one earned run allowed and a season-high nine strikeouts.
At the plate, St. Joe added on with two-out knocks in the sixth and seventh. Shortstop Cole Slibowski first made it 5-2 on a single to right-center. An inning later, the lead grew to four on third baseman Jeremy Rader’s single to left.
Down 6-2 after seven, Clarinda took control of the game’s final two regulation innings. In the eighth, the A’s loaded the bases with nobody out, threatening to narrow the deficit. But right-hander Camden Lutz punched out two in a row to reach two outs. The next hitter would drop a two-run single into left, making it a 6-4 game.
In the bottom of the eighth, St. Joe faced a similar situation offensively. The Mustangs loaded the bases with two outs for center fielder Trevor McCollum. With a chance to put the game away, McCollum went down looking, keeping momentum on Clarinda’s side.
Using that momentum, the A’s tied the game up in the ninth. With two outs and the tying run at the plate, Clarinda went double-single to level the score at six apiece. The Mustangs left the winning run at second in the bottom half, and the game moved to extra innings.
In the 10th, before the automatic runner at second rule went into effect, the two teams combined for just one baserunner. Lutz retired the side in the top of the tenth, and Clarinda rendered Bodenhausen’s one-out walk inconsequential.
From there on out, each half-inning began with a runner on second base. In the top of the 11th, Clarinda immediately moved that man to third on a bunt. But right-handed Ryker Curry would keep the ball on the infield, inducing two groundouts and holding Clarinda scoreless. In an ideal position to win, the Mustangs flied out three times and went scoreless in the bottom of the 11th.
Facing the exact same situation, Curry worked his magic again in the 12th. Clarinda moved the placement runner to third with one out, but Curry completed his biggest performance of the summer with a shallow flyout and a strikeout.
By the looks of it, the Mustangs’ half of the 12th was bound to produce another goose egg. Easton Bruce, the winning run, never made it to third until there were two outs. But the opportunity came down to Bodenhausen, one of the hottest bats in the league over the past two weeks. Having already reached base four times, the nine-hole hitter drew the line at five with a game-winning single to left field.
Now 22-11 overall and 20-11 in league play, the Mustangs have just two games remaining before the All-Star break. They will travel to Des Moines for a 7 p.m. game Friday before hosting Jefferson City Saturday.