By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
An opportunistic Joplin Outlaws offense and a strong start from Adam Bax equaled a blowout victory Wednesday night and a series win over the Chillicothe Mudcats.
The Outlaws took advantage of a struggling Mudcats’ defensive side — 10 walks, six hit batsmen and four errors — and cruised to an 18-1 win at Joe Becker Stadium.
The win, which came on the heels of Joplin’s 7-1 win over the Mudcats in Tuesday’s second game of a doubleheader, improved the Outlaws to 8-9 overall and 6-9 in the MINK League.
“Our team is healthy and we’re playing really well,” Joplin coach Rob Vessell said. “We finally have the lineup that we want. To score seven last night and then come out and score 18, it feels pretty good.”
Joplin took advantage of Chillicothe’s miscues, scoring its 18 runs on just nine hits.
Enrique Finol got the Outlaws started in the bottom of the first, driving in three runs with a slicing double to left-center. It was Joplin’s first hit of the game and followed three walks.
“I saw the at-bats before me and he was throwing a lot of balls,” Finol said. “I figured he was going to come at me with a fastball and try to throw strikes. I looked for my pitch and I got it.”
Finol finished the game 3-for-5 with four RBI and three runs scored. The St. Louis Community College sophomore-to-be raised his average to .339 and now has 11 RBI.
“I’m seeing the ball well,” he said. “I’m happy where I’m at right now.”
Joplin added five more in the second — thanks in part to a pair of Chillicothe errors and two more walks —and led 10-1 after tacking on lone runs in the third and fourth innings.
It stayed that way until an unsightly seventh inning that included five hits, two more walks and four — yes, four — hit batters. When the smoke cleared, Joplin had stretched its lead to 18-1.
“All of that is nice and it builds confidence, but I like the closer games better,” Finol said. “They’re a little more exciting.”
Overshadowed by the offensive explosion was Bax’s solid start.
The right-hander, also from St. Louis Community College, struck out six and allowed just one run in six innings.
Chillicothe’s lone run came when Javier Ledesma, hitting just .067 on the season, tripled to left-center and then scored on Kyler Offenbecker’s single in the second inning.
“Bax was sharp. Last outing, he struggled a little early on, but it was good to see him come out and put up zeroes,” Vessell said. “That was big for our offense.”
The Outlaws stay at home tonight, facing the Sedalia Bombers at 7 p.m. in a makeup game.
And when Joplin hosts Nevada on Friday, it will have a new name on the roster.
Ryan Rippee, a Kickapoo graduate and current member of the Jefferson College Vikings, will join the team. Rippee, a 6-foot-5 outfielder, was selected in the 31st round of this month’s MLB draft by the Boston Red Sox before deciding not to sign.
“The guys are all getting along and we’re playing pretty well,” Vessell said. “At the plate, defensively, we’re starting to come together. It’s exciting to watch these guys.”