July 8, 2021
By Brennan Mense
JEFFERSON CITY, MO—Des Moines' Patrick Norton hit a two-run homer and Chillicothe's Josh Swinehart connected for a game-winning three-run shot to give the North Division all the runs they would need to secure a 5-3 victory in the 2021 MINK League All-Star Game.
Swinehart's blast came with two outs in the sixth inning and put the North up for good, securing not just the victory, but also All-Star MVP honors for himself.
The contest started out with a scoreless first, as Jefferson City's Ethan Osborne got the start in front of the home crowd, though he had to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the inning, while North starter Reid Fagerstrom of Clarinda allowed a leadoff single, but nothing more.
An inning later, the South jumped on top against another Clarinda righty, Chris Paruleski, thanks to a one-out rally. After a walk to Nevada's Jack Swisher, Sedalia's Kellen Williamson rolled a ground ball to first that Norton attempted to retire Swisher on at second, but to no avail.
That set up a pair of Nevada Griffons, as Nick Chavez roped a 1-2 pitch to center to bring home his teammate Swisher for the first run of the game. The next man up, Cameron Saso, followed with an RBI single of his own to left field, which brought around Williamson to put the South up 2-0.
An inning later, the South extended the lead by another run as Jefferson City's Carter Mize put on a show for the hometown fans. The first baseman drilled a deep home run to right field, pushing the lead to 3-0.
The North, however, began to turn the tide in the fourth. Nevada's Chase Beiter took the mound and dispatched his first hitter in short order. However, he walked Travis Welker, which set the stage for Norton. With the count at 1-2, Norton deposited Beiter's delivery over the wall in left-center for a two-run homer, trimming the margin to 3-2.
The South had a chance to push the lead back out in the bottom of the fifth against St. Joseph's Brady Loving. Joplin's Drake Angeron reached on a one-out infield single, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Loving then uncorked another errant delivery, which Angeron attempted to score on. However, catcher Tanner Sears of Chillicothe fed Loving covering the plate for the out, leading the way to a scoreless inning.
Soon thereafter, the North made their decisive move. Joplin's Jack O'Brien set down the first two batters of the sixth, but was lifted in favor of Chris Carson, who struggled immediately after entering, allowing consecutive singles to St, Joseph's Sean O'Malley and Des Moines' Adam Axtell.
Up stepped Swinehart, and Carson fell behind 3-1. Rather than load the bases, Carson challenged him and the move backfired, as Swinehart deposited the delivery over the left-field wall, bringing home three runs and putting the North up 5-3.
From there, opportunities existed for each side, but none came through. The North loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but did not score. Meanwhile, the South put two on with two out in the eighth inning, but failed to capitalize.
Will Hann of St. Joseph pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two strikeouts to nail down the win.
Loving earned the win with a scoreless fifth inning on the mound, while Carson took the loss with three runs in 0.1 innings, with Hann pitching two shutout innings and earning the save. Josh Swinehart, who was 1-1 with a walk and a three-run homer, was named the game's MVP.
The second half of the season begins tonight and the Outlaws will continue to provide coverage for all St. Joseph Mustangs and Joplin Outlaws home games, plus select road games. Those games are available individually on pay-per-view, and with season passes for the MINK League or the respective teams.