July 21, 2021
By Brennan Mense
SEDALIA, MO—The Joplin Outlaws began Wednesday's doubleheader with a 13-3 win, then followed by setting the MINK League stolen base record, but the Sedalia Bombers got the last laugh, coming from three runs down to win the nightcap, 8-6, clinching the MINK League South Division title in the process.
Sedalia (20-16) locked up their fifth division title in team history and their first since 2014, earning a first-round game, as well as the right to host a playoff game next Tuesday. Joplin (19-20) kept pace half a game behind an idle Jefferson City squad in the race for second place.
The twinbill started off with a bang for the Outlaws, as Joplin scored nine runs in the top of the first inning, the biggest inning for the Outlaws since an 11-run second against Jefferson City exactly three years earlier. The first eight batters all reached and scored and 13 men came to the plate in all. Caleb Feuerstake and Logan Cline each stroked two hits in the inning.
Sedalia scored single runs in the first two innings, while Joplin added one more in the second and fifth. The Bombers plated a run in the sixth to make it 11-3, but Logan Cline added his third of the hit in the seventh, his second two-run double of the contest, which gave him six RBI on a 3-for-4 performance.
Jack O'Brien did the rest, going the distance for the first complete game by an Outlaws pitcher this season, needing 96 pitches to navigate 7.0 innings, which was also the longest outing by a Joplin hurler this season. O'Brien allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits, with one walk and six strikeouts.
In the nightcap, the Outlaws again got off to a fast start. Brett Wiemers singled on the first pitch of the game, extending his hitting streak to ten games. On a 2-1 offering, Caleb Feuerstake followed with his second home run of the season, a two-run blast to right-center which gave the Outlaws a 2-0 advantage.
With two outs in the first inning, Jeb Jenkins stole second base, which was the 118th steal this season for the Outlaws. That total set a new MINK League record, surpassing St. Joseph's total of 117 during the 2017 season.
However, despite the early festivities, Sedalia rallied for two runs in the first and one in the second off Joplin starter Zach Hill, taking a 3-2 lead in the process.
In the third, though, Jenkins would provide more fireworks. Against Sedalia starter J.P. Schneider, the Outlaws started the inning with three soft singles, loading bases with no outs for Jenkins. The Joplin second baseman jumped on a first-pitch breaking ball and crushed it over the left-field fence for his first homer of the season, a grand slam to give the Outlaws a 6-3 lead.
That proved to be the high-water mark for the Outlaws in game two, though. The Outlaws managed just one hit the rest of the contest following the slam, while the Sedalia bats heated up.
Hill could not make it through the third inning, as he allowed two runs before handing over a 6-5 lead to Ward Richardson with two on and two outs. Richardson's control betrayed him out of the gate as he hit Spencer Nivens to load the bases, then walked Braden DeSonia to force in the tying run.
Sedalia left the bases loaded in the third, but struck again off Richardson in the fourth. The Joplin right-hander retired the first two batters of the frame, but could not record the third out. Zach Dillman singled and Clayton Meyer doubled him home, giving the Bombers the lead.
Two batters later, Wyatt Towe dropped a bloop single into shallow left field, staking the Bombers to an 8-6 lead, while also ending Richardson's night.
Caden Bressler entered the fray and left the bases loaded once more, then proceeded to strand three more Bomber baserunners in the fifth, but the Outlaws had no answers for the Sedalia bullpen. Despite stranding 13 Sedalia runners, the 14 hits and eight runs were too much for Joplin to overcome.
The Outlaws had three cracks with the tying run at the plate in the seventh, but could not come up with a big hit, falling 8-6 in game two, which allowed the Bombers to clinch the division title.
Hill went 2.2 innings in his first start, allowing six runs (five earned) on nine hits, one walk, and one strikeout. Richardson (0-1) worked 1.0 inning, allowing two runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter with one strikeout. Bressler tossed 2.1 scoreless innings, working around two hits and three walks with one strikeout.
The Outlaws and Bombers finish the four-game series tonight at 7:00 p.m., which will also serve as the last regular-season broadcast of Joplin Outlaws baseball. The game will be available on pay-per-view, and with all Joplin Outlaws and MINK League passes. Additionally, a free audio-only option will also be available.