The Joplin Outlaws got back into the win column with a 5-3 victory over the Springfield Cobras behind a strong performance from left-handed pitcher Dalton Weaver on Friday at Joe Becker Stadium.
Weaver allowed two runs in the first inning before pitching five scoreless frames on the way to the win. He scattered four hits, walked three and struck out nine in six complete.
“Absolutely,” Joplin manager Danny Weaver said when asked if Dalton’s performance was his best of the season to this point. “He left a couple of pitches where he didn’t want to in the first inning, but he made a couple of adjustments and pitched really well after that.
“He got in the zone early and threw his changeup for strikes. He had confidence in (catcher Ryan Cedeno) calling pitches behind the plate. Ryan caught Dalton a lot at Pittsburg State, so they are familiar with each other, and you could tell he really trusted him.”
Josh Bortka allowed one run in two relief innings, striking out four. Austin Neal earned the save after striking out two in a scoreless ninth.
The non-league win snaps a six-game skid for the Outlaws, who improve to 3-6 on the year.
“I thought we played excellent,” Weaver said. “We talked before the game about the skid having to stop sometime, let’s stop it tonight. We stayed with our approach, working on the little things, and it paid off for them tonight. Hopefully, that can continue and we can string some wins together.”
Joplin’s offense left six runners on base, five of them in scoring position, through the first five innings. The Outlaws broke through in the sixth, with four runs on three hits, to take the 4-2 lead.
“We didn’t change our approach,” Weaver said. “We hit a couple of balls hard right at people to keep us from scoring early on. We were able to move some guys around later and came up with some timely hits.”
With runners on second and third and one out, Brendon Timmons slapped a ball off the plate and over the head of Springfield’s third baseman to score two runs to tie the game at 2-2 in the last of the sixth to get the Outlaws on the board.
“That ball got in on him a little bit, but he was able to get a barrel on it and get a turf hop over the third baseman,” Weaver said. “That hit really sparked our offense.”
With two runners in scoring position three batters later, Freilin Cabrera hit a chopper to third and legged out the throw to first for an RBI infield single, giving the Outlaws a 3-2 lead. The throw got passed the Springfield first baseman, allowing a second run to cross home on an error to push the lead to two runs.
“When you have someone who can really get down the line, you have to pick that chopper quick and let it go,” Weaver said. “Just having guys like that in the lineup is a big weapon. He did a great job forcing that errant throw.”
Mason Auer singled home a run in the top of the seventh to trim Springfield’s deficit to 4-3, but the Outlaws added the tally back in the bottom of the frame when Damian Acosta brought home a run on a fielder’s choice RBI groundout.
Nash Winters took the loss in relief, allowing four runs, two earned, on four hits and three walks. Carthage product Ian O’Malley pitched the final 2 1/3 innings for the Cobras, allowing one run on one hit, three walks and two strikeouts.
Joplin hosts the Springfield Wild at 6 p.m. today at Joe Becker Stadium.