With the help of an explosive third inning and some late-game heroics, the Mustangs were able to keep ahead of a non-MINK opponent in the Ban Johnson All-Stars and eventually win 13-11 on Wednesday at Phil Welch Stadium.
The game began with an exchange of blows. The All-Stars scored first with a sacrifice fly to take the first lead of the game. The Mustangs (20-8, 15-6 MINK) responded, coming back with two outs on the board to emerge with a tenuous 2-1 lead as they entered the third inning.
Escalating that established trend, the All-Stars erupted for four runs before the Mustangs struck back with six in the bottom of the third, highlighted by a three-RBI home run from outfielder Hampton Hudson.
Scoring went dormant, as neither team scored for the following two innings. The All-Stars scored in the sixth, quickly negated by a JP Tighe run facilitated by a pitcher error in the bottom of the seventh.
Starting pitcher Garrett Presko threw five strikeouts, but with his exit came rougher waters.
Relief pitcher Cameron July struggled mightily, pitching just the eighth inning.
He allowed four hits and walked three runners, resulting in a disastrous five run skid that turned over the Mustangs’ late lead.
In need of a miracle, the Mustangs were gifted a poor performance from an All-Stars relief pitcher Garrison Fielders, who walked the first three Mustangs batters before catcher Jordan Maxson connected on a perfectly placed single into left field that drove in Karsen Reid and Derek Hussey to tie the game at 11.
At bats by Tighe and Hudson resulted in another pair of runs to retake the lead, and MINK All-Star Austin Brooks demonstrated his worth as a closer in the final inning, taking the All-Stars to task with three successive strikeouts to put an end to any dream of a comeback.
Still leading the MINK North, the Mustangs will face off against division rival Sedalia at 7 p.m. tonight, accompanied by a post-game fireworks show to celebrate Independence Day.