The St. Joseph Mustangs celebrated Independence Day with a booming display of offense Tuesday. With a 10-2 defeat of the Sedalia Bombers, the Mustangs improved to 21-10 overall and 19-10 in M.I.N.K. League play - good for outright first place in the North Division.
For the second consecutive night, St. Joe opened the scoring immediately. Second baseman Noah Bodenhausen led off the first with a walk, his first of five times reaching base, and stole both second and third. With two outs in the inning, third baseman Ryan Callahan stroked a single to left field, bringing Bodenhausen down the line.
Sedalia punched right back with two in the second, though, taking a 2-1 lead. But Mustangs starting pitcher Tyson Hilsabeck drew the line there. He retired seven straight after surrendering the lead before working out of a two-on, nobody-out jam in the fifth. The right-hander finished his night strong by striking out three in the sixth to secure a quality start.
Meanwhile, St. Joe took a lead it would hang onto for good in the third. Bodenhausen again reached with a single and again stole second, later coming home on center fielder Brayden Luikart’s single. Two batters later, catcher Ben Click provided the Mustangs’ second two-out RBI with a single to right.
The two-out magic continued in a three-run fifth, as the Mustangs stretched their lead from 3-2 to 6-2. With two away and runners on first and second, right fielder Will Dryburgh poked a single through the right side. The ball skidded underneath the Sedalia right fielder’s glove, allowing both runs to score and springing Dryburgh to third. He would make his way home on a wild pitch.
After Hilsabeck departed, right-handed Jaren Guck twirled two scoreless innings of relief, setting the table for a putaway in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Mustangs would score four more runs - three of them with two outs - to bury the Bombers. Designated hitter Easton Bruce, who checked in midway through the game, picked up his team-high 29th run batted in with a sacrifice fly.
The ninth inning brought right-hander Manny Peña to the stage, and the hard thrower closed the door with three strikeouts. Up next, the Mustangs will play one of their most important series to date. The Clarinda A’s, sitting half a game back of St. Joe in the North, will visit for Wednesday and Thursday games. The series opener is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Phil Welch Stadium.