The St. Joseph Mustangs dropped their third consecutive M.I.N.K. League game Friday. Falling 9-3 to the North Division-leading Clarinda A’s, the Mustangs are now 13-8 overall and 11-8 in league play.
St. Joe opened the scoring right away. With one out in the first, right fielder Brayden Luikart drilled a triple to right field. Luikart finished a home run shy of the cycle with a three-hit night. He would come around to score on a bloop single by center fielder Trevor McCollum.
The Mustang lead would hold up over the next two innings, as starting pitcher Michael Infranca quieted the A’s early. But the fourth inning saw Clarinda take a 4-1 lead with the help of two St. Joe errors.
From that point forward, the Mustangs never pulled closer than a three-run deficit. They scored a run in the sixth on left fielder Easton Bruce’s single, but Clarinda also put one on the board.
In the top of the eighth, the A’s brought two runs in to take a 7-2 lead, their largest of the night. St. Joe’s most promising rally then developed in the ensuing bottom half. With a run already home and Clarinda turning to the bullpen, the Mustangs loaded the bases with nobody out. Both Bruce and catcher Ben Click hit as the tying run, but the former punched out and the latter bounced into an inning-ending double play.
Clarinda pushed the game out of reach with two runs in the ninth, securing the 9-3 victory. Now three games back of the red-hot A’s - who have won nine in a row - St. Joe has fallen to third place in the North. The Mustangs will wrap up their homestand Saturday at 7 p.m. against Des Moines.