An early season skid continued for the Joplin Outlaws on Tuesday night as they were swept by the St. Joseph Mustangs in a MINK League doubleheader at Joe Becker Stadium.
The Outlaws (2-4, 0-3 MINK) suffered 5-4 and 5-1 losses to St. Joseph (4-0, 4-0), pushing their losing streak to four games after opening the campaign at 2-0.
“Maybe there is (some frustration mounting) a little bit for out guys, but maybe it is for the people in the stands more than us,” Joplin coach Danny Weaver said. “We know that this is a process and we’re still in the very early part of our season. We’ve gotten some good swings the past few games, but we’ve also had some long swings. You know, a lot of these guys are coming off redshirt years and haven’t had very many hacks until now. But we’ll get in the cage tomorrow and we’ll work through it. These guys are going to be good and we’re going to be OK there.”
Joplin and St. Joseph wrap up their series tonight at 7 at Joe Becker Stadium.
ST. JOSEPH 5, JOPLIN 4
A three-run showing for the Mustangs in the top of the seventh ended up spoiling a standout outing by Joplin starting pitcher Malachi Crone after the Outlaws led the game through six innings.
Crone, a sophomore from Garden City Community College, limited the Mustangs to two earned runs on five hits while striking out four batters in six innings.
“I was really locating my fastball well tonight, which opened up the zone with my cutter, and I feel like that’s what I really dominated with,” Crone said. “I was able to keep my cutter low in the zone and they started chasing it.”
St. Joseph took advantage of Crone’s exit in the top of the seventh, however, and erased a 4-2 deficit by scoring three runs on three hits and one walk.
“Malachi threw very well through six, and pitch-count wise with a 4-2 lead, we decided to turn it over to our bullpen,” Weaver said. “But his outing was very good. He commanded the zone and threw strikes early in the count. We’re typically going to stick to our rotations and go with our closers in those situations, and it’s just a tough-luck deal where they loaded up the bases on us and got an infield hit to tie it up and then take the lead.”
The Mustangs plated their go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk with two outs. Jackson Wagner finished as the team’s leading hitter, going 2-for-3 with one home run, one double and two runs batted in.
Zack Ehlan, Damian Acosta and Parker Dunn each logged one hit for the Outlaws.
ST. JOSEPH 5, JOPLIN 1
Mustang starter Noah Cameron stole the show in the nightcap as he held the Outlaws to one earned run on five hits while striking out six batters in six innings.
Joplin drew first blood on an RBI single by Parker Dunn in the bottom of the first inning. But from there, St. Joseph plated three runs in the second and two runs in the fourth.
The Outlaws had six baserunners in the game but stranded five.
“The things that’s kind of been holding us back is our mental approach at the dish right now,” Weaver said. “We come out and score runs in the first few innings and then we kind of go away. I think it’s a little bit of lack of focus or not knowing what we should be working for. But like I said, these are problems we’ve identified, and now we can begin to correct them.”
Wagner again led the team at the plate, going 2-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored.
David Butterfield paced the Joplin offense with a pair of hits in three plate appearances while Ehlen and Dunn both notched one hit.