July 12, 2021
By Brennan Mense
JOPLIN, MO—The Joplin Outlaws frustrating run of bad luck against the Nevada Griffons continued as the Griffons held the Outlaws to just six hits as they blanked Joplin 4-0 on Monday night in Joplin.
Nevada (14-16) shut out the Outlaws for the third time—the only three times the Outlaws have been shut out this year—while improving to 6-0 in MINK League games (6-1 overall) against their closest rival. Joplin (15-14) falls into a tie for second place in the MINK League South with the Griffons.
The Griffons took the early lead in the first inning as they took advantage of a litany of free baserunners. Outlaws starter Steen Lane was wild from the onset, plunking three Griffons hitters in the first inning alone, while an error by Logan Cline compounded matters. Still, with the bases loaded and one out, Matt Leong barely beat out the back end of a potential double play bringing home the first run of the game.
Nevada extended the lead in the second as they put runners on the corners with two outs. Lane then uncorked a wild pitch, one of four on the evening, to score Cameron Saso.
Still laboring, Lane would not survive the third. After a leadoff single, Lane induced a fielder's choice and strikeout, but a two-out walk led Chris Dawson to pull him in favor of John Kea. Kea worked the count to 1-2 against Saso, but the Nevada third baseman rolled an RBI single through the right side, and it was 3-0 Griffons.
Against Nevada starter Chase Beiter, the Outlaw offense struggled to string together baserunners. Joplin recorded two-out hits in the second, third, and fourth, but failed to advance a runner past second either time. In the fifth, a leadoff single was squandered.
Meanwhile, Kea hit his stride, setting down ten straight Griffons following the Saso single. He threw perfect fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, striking out four batters along the way.
Joplin finally had a golden opportunity to reward Kea's efforts in the bottom of the sixth. Beiter issued a leadoff walk to Cline, then Jared Toler lined a one-out single to left. A wild pitch then moved both runners into scoring position with one out.
However, Beiter caught Jeb Jenkins looking on a 3-2 fastball and Brandon Ulmer struck out swinging on three pitches, and the Outlaws were left with nothing in the sixth.
Fresh off the blown opportunity, Kea finally faltered in the seventh as he issued a leadoff walk to Kahle Good, before throwing a pickoff attempt out of play. Following a wild pitch, Jesse Fonteboa brought in Good on a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 4-0.
Steve Marhefke relieved Beiter in the seventh and allowed a Joplin runner in each of the final three innings, but the Outlaws failed to even move a man into scoring position over the final three frames as they were blanked by the Griffons for the second time in three days.
Lane (0-1) went 2.2 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits, while walking three, hitting three, striking out four, and throwing four wild pitches. Kea allowed an unearned run on one hit over 4.1 innings, walking two and striking out four. Gavin Heltemes allowed a hit and struck out a batter in a scoreless inning, while Jake Algee struck out two and walked one in an inning of relief.
The Outlaws will make their final trip to Nevada for another contest against the Griffons tonight at Lyons Stadium, with a 7:00 first pitch scheduled. The next Outlaws home game and next broadcast will be on Wednesday as the Jefferson City Renegades come to town for a 7:00 first pitch. That game will be available on pay-per-view, as well as with all Joplin Outlaws and MINK League passes.