St. Joseph Mustangs second basemen Drew Beazley stepped to plate with two on in the bottom of the ninth with one thing in mind: helping his team to a walkoff victory over Jefferson City.
He worked his way to a 0-2 count, and on the third pitch, he hit the ball to right centerfield, good for a 5-4 win in a battle of two of the best teams in the MINK.
“Once I saw it go into the right center gap, I knew I just had a good shot and the guy on first base could score,” Beazley said.
Both teams stood at the top of their respective divisions prior to the game, with St Joseph the North and Jefferson City (14-12, 10-12 MINK) the South.
Entering the night, the Mustangs (22-9, 18-6 MINK) had fallen short in three of their four previous meetings. On Saturday, it was a chance for the Mustangs to get back ahead.
“They’ve just kind of beat us late,” Mustangs manager Johnny Coy said.
“Tonight, we were able to get a really good sling on a really good pitcher and got us the win.”
The game never had a deficit of two or more run, resulting in a heavy pitching battle.
There also was a period of three and a half innings with no runs scored, keeping the battle close.
St. Joseph starting pitcher Cam Bednar gave up two runs in the first inning, but moved on to pitch five scoreless innings.
Mustangs centerfielder Hampton Hudson lost sight of the ball in the first frame of the game, turning into an RBI triple by Paul Haupt. Haupt scored a few pitches later on a flyout by Gaven Strobel.
“That’s our plan,” Coy said. “Our guys have lost it at least four or five times so far this summer at home games. The first time we get the ball at centerfield, we lose it in the sun and give up a couple of runs early. We haven’t really had it bother us too much.”
Hudson made up for his mistake in the bottom of the first, leading off with a single. It turned into a Mustangs run with the help of a Jordan Maxson RBI double two at-bats later.
The Mustangs’ 2-1 deficit stuck until the fifth inning when a single by Maxson scored Hudson and right fielder Brady Holden.
Jefferson City tied it up at 3-3 two innings later through an RBI single by Thomas Ruether, scoring Max McCay.
Dylan Ketch, Logan Rycroft and Brady Holden reached base in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Mustangs hope of taking the lead.
Derek Hussey stepped up to plate looking to help the Mustangs with one out. His at-bat instead turned to a double-play.
The play turned into a downside for the Mustangs, leading to a rally by the Renegades in the top of the ninth to take the 4-3 lead.
Two of St. Joseph’s first three batters advanced to base in the bottom of the ninth. On the fourth at bat, Beazley hit the walk off.
“We had a few chances in the game to put the game away, and we fell a little bit short,” Coy said. “But you know our pitching held us in there. We gave up the lead at the end, our guys weren’t down and we weren’t upset.”