Jul. 22—The St. Joseph Mustangs clinched a 5-3 victory over Chillicothe in the final MINK North Division regular season bout between the two Wednesday at Phil Welch Stadium.
The win ends the Mustangs' three-game losing streak and improves the team's record to 20-17, while the Mudcats fall to 15-19 on the season.
In the first frame, the Mustangs worked around a four-pitch leadoff walk, then the home team began the scoring on the night.
In the bottom of the first, a double down the first baseline from Sean O'Malley gave the Mustangs their first run of the game, scoring Cole Slibowski to lead 1-0.
Ike Book then brought home another run to extend their lead to 2-0.
Starting pitcher Drake Kanallakan helped the Mustangs' cause by halting the Mudcats from any scoring opportunities.
Through seven innings, Kanallakan allowed just two hits and zero runs.
"It was clutch. We needed him to come out and go deep into the game and not give up too many runs and he did really well," Mustangs manager Johnny Coy said. "He let his defense work for him and our defense played really well for him and that was the reason why we won."
The Mustangs continued their offensive prowess in the bottom of the seventh, when Brady Holden singled to score Slibowski and Noah Bodenhausen.
Ike Book answered the call yet again for the Mustangs by bringing in the fifth run on a double to left-center field, pushing the team's advantage to 5-0 over the Mudcats.
After two pitching substitutions, the Mudcats managed to close out the inning. Then bats came alive for Chillicothe in the top of the eighth inning.
The Mudcats scored three runs in the top of the frame to make it a two-run ball game with the home team still in the lead at 5-3.
Similar to the Mudcats, the Mustangs had two pitching substations in the frame. After Will Hann stepped on the mound for Kanallakan and allowed the three runs, Brady Loving closed out the game for the Mustangs with a 5-3 win.
Loving finished with one hit and four strikeouts, while Hann had four hits and three runs.
Coy said, "Will's been lights out for us all summer. He just left a couple balls up which was a little uncharacteristic of him and I could tell that he really didn't have his best stuff tonight, so we went ahead and got him out of there and got Brady Loving in and he was able to close the door for us."
With a potential home playoff berth on the line, Johnny Coy said the victory helps push the team toward its ultimate goal.
"We definitely want to host that first playoff game. We don't want to play on the road at all. Having a home field advantage is huge because our fans are great. They're going to come out in record numbers I'm sure and just being able to play at home, everything's more relaxed," Coy said. "We just got to keep winning. We got to finish the season strong. There's still five games left in the regular season. Those five games are super important. We got to continue to keep winning and hopefully get on a hot streak and carry it into the playoffs."
The Mustangs next host the conference-leading Clarinda A's (33-5) Thursday in a doubleheader starting at 5:30 at Phil Welch Stadium.
St. Joseph is 0-8 against the A's this year, and Coy hopes to turn that around.
"We haven't played them at home in awhile, so hopefully we can win a couple tomorrow," Coy said.