The St. Joseph Mustangs clinched the North Division regular season title and the number one overall seed in the M.I.N.K. League postseason Friday. They did so with a 9-3 takedown of Chillicothe, securing the season series against the Mudcats after starting 0-3. Now 30-15 overall and 28-14 within the league, the Mustangs can set their sights on Tuesday’s Divisional game.
After falling behind the Mudcats 6-0 the day prior, St. Joe never trailed during Friday's game. Four different Mustangs recorded multiple knocks for an offense that finished with 12 hits on the night. First baseman Ryan Callahan opened the scoring in the first with a sacrifice fly, bringing in shortstop Cole Slibowski after his leadoff double. Shortly thereafter, designated hitter Ike Book doubled and came in to score on a throwing error.
Already up a pair, the Mustangs added another run in the third on Slibowski’s RBI single. And though Chillicothe pushed back with two runs in the top of the third, center fielder Trevor McCollum’s single made it 4-2 St. Joe entering the fourth.
The Mustangs’ offensive attack would let up over the next four innings, placing the spotlight on starting pitcher Michael Infranca and reliever Jase Johnson. Infranca delivered his third quality start of the season, allowing three runs on no walks across six innings. When he passed the baton to Johnson for his summer debut, the Mustangs led 4-3. Immediately pushed into a high-leverage situation, Johnson looked as comfortable as ever, striking out three over two shutout innings.
In the bottom of the eighth, the St. Joe bats finally returned to form, plowing over the Mudcats with five runs. Each of the top four hitters in the lineup drove in a run, with Book icing the game on a two-run triple to right-center field. Both Book and Slibowski finished the night with three hits and two runs batted in.
The Mustangs will play their final regular season home game of the summer Saturday at 7 p.m. Right-hander Mason Holton will make the start against the Carroll Merchants.