The Sedalia Bombers beat St. Joseph 5-3 in game one of the MINK League Championship Series Wednesday at Dey Field at Liberty Park, taking a 1-0 lead in the series and getting within one game of a MINK League championship.
The win came at a cost as starting pitcher Cole Bartlett injured his arm in the second inning.
“It’s hard to see a pitcher like Cole Bartlett go down,” said Bombers manager Jud Kindle. “More than win or losing a game, to see a guy that’s going to be special go down, that’s horrible.”
In the first inning, Bartlett retired the Mustangs in order, falling behind the second hitter before putting three straight strikes past him, then striking out the third hitter on three pitches, the third strike looking. He continued to dominate in the second, striking out the first two batters and getting ahead of the third 1-2 before the injury.
“Something snapped in his elbow and he felt a pop,” Kindle said. “Immediately we had to take him out because it’s not worth risking his career.”
Preparing to pitch the seventh and eight, Danny Chambliss came on in relief in the second. He allowed an infield single and walking a man before Kyle Richards came through with a base hit to left. Bombers’ left fielder Hunter Leeper mis-played the ball, allowing both runs to score to put the Mustangs in front.
“You just have to get ready earlier than normal,” Chambliss said. “Getting ready on the game mound is not something I’m used to so that was a little different. The guys played great defense behind me and we got the job done.”
Chambliss then worked his way out of one jam after another. A single up the middle with one out in the third led to nothing for St. Joseph. The Mustangs had runners on the corners with two outs in the fourth before a fly ball ended the inning. A pair of walks in the fifth and a double into the right-center gap in the sixth also resulted in no runs on the board for St. Joseph.
One infield single was all the offense the Bombers could muster in the first three innings as Mustangs starter Ryker Fox struck out four of the first five hitters he faced. A foul pop up got him out of a two-on, two out jam in the second and he retired the side in the third on three fly balls to the outfield.
The Bombers’ bats came alive in the fourth. Trey Hair reached on an infield single and Alex Bee followed with a single to right. After Leeper walked, Jordan Dey hit a bases-loaded single to left, scoring two runs to tie the game.
“Bases loaded with one out, any time there’s bases loaded with one out they’re going to try to get a double play ball so he was going to go to his off-speed,” Dey said. “I was looking for a curveball and he threw one and just hung it in there. Luckily enough I was able to get a piece on it and got it in the gap.”
The throw got to the plate before Bee did, but St. Joe catcher Francisco Alvarez could not hang on to the ball. Leeper scored moments later when Jonathan Ramon hit a sharp grounder which the Mustang shortstop couldn’t handle.
The Bombers added another in the fifth on a Leeper single past the second baseman to score Hair.
The Mustangs got one back in the seventh. With runners on the corners and one out, Joe Koerper hit what could have been a double play ball to second, but Trent Hill broke it up and second, allowing a run to score. The Bombers answered in the bottom of the inning on a Tony Sandifer sacrifice fly to center to score Jess Cartner.
Chambliss again shut down the Mustangs in the eighth, aided by a sliding catch in foul territory by Shain Showers.
“We’re going to do the same thing (in game two) that we’ve done all year,” Kindle said. “We’re a relaxed team, but when we step between the lines, our focus just has to be there like it was (in game one).”
The Bombers and Mustangs will meet in game two at 7 p.m. today in St. Joseph as Sedalia has a chance to clinch a league championship.
“Going up there being down 0-1 would have been tough,” Dey said. “Now we’re going to be up 1-0. They’re going to have a good home field advantage with 4,500 fans so its really good to have a 1-0 lead.”