July 4, 2021
By Brennan Mense
SPRINGDALE, AR—In a July 4 spectacular at Arvest Ballpark, the Joplin Outlaws scored four runs in the seventh inning, just before a pre-determined time limit ended the game, handing the Outlaws a 6-5 win in an exhibition contest over the Nevada Griffons.
Playing in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd estimated to number nearly 4,000 fans, Nevada (10-15) jumped out to a big lead right away, as Jack O'Brien allowed a walk and a to begin the game, both of which came around to score. Clay Saporito fared no better in the second for Joplin (13-9), as the Griffons tacked on three more, two of which came on a double by Cameron Saso.
With the Griffons sporting a 5-0 lead, the Outlaws offense went down without a hit over the first four innings against three Nevada pitchers. The Griffons did issue five walks in that span, but the Outlaws left the bases loaded in the second and stranded two more runners in the fourth.
In the fifth, though, Joplin broke through against Nevada's Chase St. Amand. Lawson Faria ripped a double to the left field to lead off the inning, then scored two batters later on an Ethan Lopez single. Angeron swiped second base, then scored easily when Cade Lott lined a double into the gap in left-center, cutting the deficit to 5-2.
Joplin pitching continued to hold down the fort, as Austin Gottula, Zach Hill, Steen Lane, Ward Richardson, and Brett Weimers all threw scoreless frames in relief. That set the stage for a truly bizarre seventh inning rally.
Lopez was hit by a pitch on the very first pitch of the inning, but was caught stealing almost immediately. Lott followed with a walk, but Ethan Ellis struck out for the second out. The third out would be hard to come by, however, as Nevada embarked on a complete collapse.
Caleb Feuerstake proceeded to reach on a soft ground ball to short that was ruled an error on Kahle Good. Brandon Ulmer then took a walk, with ball four being a wild pitch that brought home Lott. With runners on the corner, Ulmer took off for second and catcher Nick Chavez attempted a throw down, but the throw soared into center field, scoring Feuerstake and moving Ulmer to third.
The sloppy defense continued. Jared Toler drew a walk, then Calen Protaskey rolled a ground ball to short that Good fielded cleanly. However, his throw to first was in the dirt and slipped away from first baseman Steve Marhefke, scoring Ulmer to tie the game and moving the winning run to second.
The Griffons had another error up their sleeve, and they saved their most bizarre for last. Lawson Faria worked the count full, then rolled a dribbler up the first place line that started foul, but rolled back fair. Chaves accurately threw to first as Faria made a headlong dive towards the bag, but the throw inexplicably went right past the outstretched mitt of Marhefke for another error, bringing home Toler for a 6-5 lead.
The four Joplin runs all scored without a hit, or even a ball hit to the outfield, as the Griffons walked three batters, hit one more, and committed four errors in the nightmarish seventh inning.
The Outlaws were ready to begin the eighth in the field, but after two and a half hours of play, with full darkness approaching at the nine o'clock hour, the umpires called the game. As bizarre as the finish was, the game was just an exhibition with no bearing on the MINK League standings, so all-in-all, there was little harm in forgoing the final two frames.
Once the dust settled and the fireworks filled the sky, the Outlaws were left with a 6-5 win, thanks to ten hits and five opposing errors. The save went to the time limit.
Joplin returns back to Joe Becker Stadium tonight for another matchup against the Nevada Griffons. First pitch is at 7:00 p.m. and the broadcast will be available on UclickTV on pay-per-view, as well as with all Joplin Outlaws and MINK League season passes.