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St. Joseph Mustangs starter Joseph Hietpas throws a pitch in the first inning of a MINK playoff game Wednesday against the Clarinda A’s at Phil Welch Stadium.

The St. Joseph Mustangs 2018 campaign came to an end with the bases loaded.

After falling behind early, the Mustangs fought valiantly to keep their season alive before falling to the Clarinda A’s 5-4 in MINK league playoff action.

Clarinda scored three runs in the third inning when the A’s got to Mustangs starter Joseph Hietpas. Three successive singles and a double gave Clarinda an early 3-0 lead.

St. Joseph cut the lead to 3-2 in the fourth when, after Alex Phillips doubled to lead off the inning, Jordan Maxson’s single plated Phillips.

Maxson would score later in the inning on a Zach Perdue single.

The score remained the same until the top of the seventh inning when a costly throwing error with two outs kept the A’s inning alive. The next batter hit a two-out double to give the A’s a 5-2 lead.

Down but not out, the Mustangs started to make it interesting in the eighth inning.

A double steal with one out in the inning produced a run when the throw to second wound up in centerfield scoring Phillips. The Mustangs then loaded the bases with one out, but Clarinda pitcher Brandon Andrews struck out the final two batters innings.

In the ninth, the Mustangs scored a run without a hit when A’s reliever Nick Jones walked two and hit two Mustangs batters bringing the score to 5-4.

But Jones would settle down and end the Mustangs season when he induced a ground ball back to himself for the final out.

“We kept battling back,” Mustangs manager Johnny Coy said after the game. “These guys have great character and that’s something you just can’t teach.”

The Mustangs finish their season with an overall record of 24-24 and a 20-23 in the MINK League.

Scott Murphy can be reached at scott.murphy@newspressnow.com.