A doubleheader sweep for the Sedalia Bombers on Tuesday against Branson at Liberty Park Stadium at Day Field puts them within a game and a half of division-leading St. Joseph.
The Bombers took game one 6-5 in eight innings before their power led them to a 10-4 win in game two.
Clutch hitting and solid pitching from James Ball led the Bombers in game one.
Ball pitched the final three innings, allowing one hit and walking one.
“He’s a strike thrower from all different slots,” said Bombers coach Craig McAndrews. “He’s just a great pitcher. I know he’s going to gets strikes and I know he’s going to field his position. He gets a lot of ground balls and pop flies, that’s why I stayed with him.”
Branson grounded out three times in the sixth against Ball. In the seventh, Kasey Cooper hit a one-out triple and Garrett Mays walked, but a 4-6-3 double play ended the threat to keep the game tied at five apiece.
Branson got runners on first and third with one out in the eighth thanks to two errors, but Ball got Brad Jelinek to pop out to shortstop and Kaleb Follis grounded into a 4-6 fielder’s choice to seal the win.
To take the lead in the top of the eighth, Jonathan Ramon singled in Jarod Perry. Perry walked with one out and went to second when Trey Harris singled with two outs.
Sedalia fell behind 5-4 after five innings, but two-out hits once again allowed the Bombers to come back in the seventh inning.
Alex Del Rio was hit by a pitch and Hunter Leeper singled to centerfield with two outs. Travis Tokarek then hit a liner to right field for a single to drive in Del Rio and make it 5-5.
“I always think no matter what situation it is or where I’m at in the order I’m always going to go up there and try to get the best at-bat that I can,” Tokarek said. “I just went up there with that attitude and I delivered for my team and that’s all that matters.”
A double and an error helped the Nationals take a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but the Bombers didn’t waste time to come back and take the lead.
Tokarek delivered a two-out single in the second inning to drive in Ramon, who hit a one-out double off the right-field wall.
Chance McMullin was then hit by a pitch to load the bases and Stewart Nelson hit a fly ball to right field for a single that allowed Del Rio and Tokarek to score and give Sedalia a 3-2 lead.
Branson tied it up in the third, but McMullin singled in Tokarek in the fourth to take a 4-3 lead.
Tokarek led off the inning with a triple to deep right field.
“I honestly thought the guy was going to catch it and I got a late round and I just kind of legged it out and ran as hard as I can,” Tokarek said.
The Nationals once again tied it up in the bottom of the fourth when Brock Hammit scored from third on a wide throw to first base on a pickoff attempt.
Branson took a 5-4 lead in the fifth when Hammit reached on an error and Mays scored.
Dalton Christian started on the mound for Sedalia, allowing five runs on six hits and striking out two. Three of the runs were unearned.
Branson took an early lead in game two, but Ramon hit a three-run home run in the third to give Sedalia a 3-2 lead.
Leeper added a solo homer in the fourth inning to give Sedalia a 4-2 lead.
Holt singled in Nelson and Ramon singled in Perry and Holt.
To cap off the five-run inning, Leeper singled in Ramon to give Sedalia an 8-2 lead.
The Bombers added two runs in the fifth and Branson got two in the seventh.
The Bombers will play their third doubleheader in a row at 4 p.m. today against the Joplin Outlaws.
Jason Strickland can be reached at 660-530-0147 or on Twitter @J_Strick_Sports.