The St. Joseph Mustangs suffered their first loss of 2023 in Joplin Monday night. Seeking revenge after last season’s M.I.N.K. League Championship, the Outlaws led wire-to-wire en route to a 6-1 victory.
Just 24 hours removed from a 15-run performance in Nevada, St. Joe’s offense couldn’t find the timely hits in Joplin. The Mustangs went 1-for-17 with runners on base and 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. They also failed to record a two-out hit for the first time this season.
Left-hander Aron Harrington started for the Mustangs, making his summer pitching debut. He surrendered two runs in the first but locked in for the remaining three innings of his start. In his fourth and final frame, left fielder Easton Bruce made a sensational defensive play. Joplin leadoff hitter Landon Meyer sizzled a ball to left, but Bruce ranged back to the wall and made a leaping grab, taking away at least a double.
Harrington gave way to Ryker Curry and Michael Infranca, who combined to allow just one unearned run in three innings. As the eighth inning began, St. Joe trailed by a score of 3-0.
In that eighth frame, the Mustangs loaded the bases with one out of catcher Oscar Pegg. He struck out, but first baseman Ike Book scampered home on a wild pitch with two away. That play moved the tying run into scoring position for right fielder Dakota Spicer, but he bounced out to end the threat.
Having broken the offensive seal, St. Joe tasked reliever Jack Wells with keeping the score at 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out his first two hitters with ease but walked each of the next three. With the bases loaded and two retired, Mustangs center fielder Trevor McCollum laid out for a shallow fly ball in right-center field. The baseball landed just beyond his glove, scoring all three runs.
Trailing 6-1, St. Joe put two baserunners aboard in the ninth, but a flyout stranded them both and ended the game. The Mustangs’ record now sits at 3-1 overall and 2-1 in M.I.N.K. League Play. They’ll finish up their first road trip of the year in Carroll for a Tuesday evening (6:30 p.m.) battle with the Merchants.