The hunt is definitely on for the final spot in the North Division as the Mudcats looked to space themselves further from Carroll. Step one was executed well, which was get the first victory. Unfortunately, step two didn’t go as planned. In game one, Chillicothe got out to a sizable lead and ran with it to the end, winning 11-2. In game two, it seemed like another solid victory, but Des Moines rallied for six runs in the last inning with two outs to take a 7-6 walk-off victory. With every magical victory, there is always a raw heartbreak. For the Mudcats, they are hoping this is their only one they see over the next week.
The offense from game one really told the story. Six total Mudcats’ players would put together multi-hit games, including Infielder Jackson Lindquist. He would finish his night going 2-3 with a double, a triple, two runs scored and an RBI. Infielder Tanner Sears would drive in three runs on the night, giving him forty on the season, which leads the league. The biggest story of the offense came from the base running. Coming into game one, the Mudcats found themselves six stolen bases away from becoming the new record holder for most stolen bases in a single season by a team with 166. Last season, St. Joseph set that record with 165, with their division rival looking to break it this year. With two outs in the third, Designated Hitter Sammy Cruz would draw a walk to put him on base, just one shy of the record. Outfielders Noah Hata and Nathan MacLaren and Infielder Peyton Becker contributed five stolen bases between the three of them prior to Cruz’s at bat. With Lindquist at the plate, Cruz would swipe second with ease, giving the 2023 Chillicothe Mudcats the single season record with 166 and counting. After both games, they would finish wit 171, looking to add on in their next three games.
As for the pitching in game one, RHP Jaydon Cabezudo would throw possibly his best outing of the season. He finished off six solid innings, only allowing the two runs, two walks and striking out three. Cabezudo continues to impress in his last appearances, lowering his ERA to 6.93 on the season in league play. Lindquist would close the game out in the seventh, throwing a scoreless 1-2-3 inning.
In game two, RHP Caleb Bergman would look to replicate Cabezudo’s dominance. For most of the game, it was fairly low scoring, as the Mudcats put the first runs on the board in the fourth to go up 2-0. Bergman primarily pitches to contact and can get quick outs when needed. In this game, he looked to go above and beyond, coming out for the complete game in the seventh with his team up 6-1. The way Bergman had been pitching, it was hard to argue with the decision. After getting a couple base runners aboard, Des Moines would pop out and strikeout, to go down to their final out. Bergman would be one strike away from finishing it off, but after a questionable call on an outside pitch that wasn’t called a strike, the game took a turn. The Peak Prospects would put up five consecutive two out hits, scoring six runs and getting the victory on a two-run walk-off single.
A victory would’ve put the Mudcats at an advantage in the standings over Carroll and get closer to Clarinda in second. Instead, they sit a game above the Merchants and still two games back of the A’s, after both teams earned wins on Wednesday Night. Now with three games left for Chillicothe, it seems like the race to the postseason gets even tighter. For the Mudcats, they host the first place Mustangs Thursday night and travel to St. Joseph on Friday for back-to-back matchups. On Saturday, they head to Clarinda to round out the regular season. For Carroll, they battle Nevada once again on Thursday, with an off day on Friday. They head to St. Joseph on Saturday and finish their season on Sunday. For Clarinda, they don’t have a day off this week, as they’ll play Sedalia on Thursday, Des Moines on Friday and the rest of the games above against Chillicothe and Carroll. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any tighter of a race, here we are.