Less than a week after celebrating back-to-back walk-off wins, the St. Joseph Mustangs ended up on the wrong side of the party Wednesday night in Carroll. Coughing up two multi-run deficits in the final three innings, the Mustangs fell 10-9 in all innings. They are now 25-12 overall and 23-12 within M.I.N.K. League play.
Left-hander Aron Harrington delivered his third quality start of the summer, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Mustangs in front. Countering St. Joe’s lone run in the third, Carroll scored three two-out runs between the third and fourth innings. After six innings, the duration of both starting pitchers’ outings, the Merchants led 3-1.
In the top of the seventh, the Mustang offense exploded. With one out, second baseman Michael Paule tripled home a run. Shortstop Cole Slibowski then scored him on a game-tying sacrifice fly. As the bases emptied out with two away, St. Joe sparked another rally with a pair of hit batsmen. Then, in his second game back from a three-week injury absence, designated hitter Ike Book made Carroll pay. The clean-up man launched a three-run homer, his first of the summer, to put St. Joe on top 6-3.
Buttressed by two scoreless innings of relief work from right-hander Jay Greco, the Mustangs scored again on an error in the eighth. An inning later, they put the first two men on base but could not score, a missed opportunity that proved pivotal.
In the bottom of the ninth, Carroll worked three consecutive one-out walks against Jack Wells, bringing the tying run to the plate. A hit-by-pitch and balk allowed two runs to score, but a groundout put the Mustangs within an out of escape. With the tying run at third, a Merchants single tied the game, forcing extra innings.
Both teams went down quietly in the 10th, as the Mustangs made their third out on the basepaths and Wells shut down the Merchants. With the initial placement runner on second, St. Joe pushed two runs across in the 11th, scoring on a balk and fielder’s choice.
With a second chance to close out Carroll, right-hander Jaren Guck took the ball in the 11th. The Merchants narrowed the gap with a double, but Guck recorded the second out with the tying run still at second base. Once again down to their final swings, the Merchants found a way, following another double with a single to end the game.
Following their 2-1 road trip, the Mustangs will begin a three-game homestand against the KC Monarchs Thursday at 7 p.m.