In the most pivotal at-bat of his summer season, Joplin’s John Prudhom called ballgame.
The Racine, Wisconsin, native had just one home run in his MINK League campaign heading into Wednesday night. But in the bottom of the 10th inning of a tie game, Prudhom blasted a home run to left field to lift the Joplin Outlaws to a 5-4 triumph over the Jefferson City Renegades at Joe Becker Stadium.
“I knew the pitch I wanted and I was just sitting on it,” said Prudhom, a junior-to-be for Central Missouri. “I made a pretty good cut on it, and I definitely knew it was gone as soon it left the bat.”
Prudhom’s late-game heroics secured a second consecutive win for the Outlaws as they won three of four games in a rain-shortened homestand. Joplin, a winner in nine of its last 10 contests, is 18-14 on the season and 12-13 in MINK League play.
With 11 games remaining in the regular season, Joplin trails South Division frontrunner Ozark by just one game in the league standings and leads third-place Jefferson City by 2 1/2 games.
“The last two nights have been pretty exciting, to say the least,” Joplin coach Danny Weaver said, referencing his team’s nine-run comeback on Tuesday night that resulted in an 11-10 win over the Renegades. “Last night was a little sloppy and we probably stole a win that we shouldn’t have. But tonight was just a great ballgame all around. All of these games against (Jefferson City) seem to be decided by one run.”
Joplin held a lead through the first seven innings on Wednesday before Jefferson City rallied to take its first advantage, 4-3, in the eighth.
Needing at least one run to remain alive in the bottom of the ninth, Joplin pulled through as Joe Kinder drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded to even the score at 4-all.
The ensuing at-bat, however, saw Joplin’s Donovan Sutti pop out to third base to end the inning and force extras.
“We thought we probably should have won this one in the ninth with the bases loaded,” Weaver said. “We had some great at-bats there, but we just didn’t get the ball where it needed to go to get the winning run in.”
The Outlaws got a much-needed shutout frame in the top of the 10th despite Jefferson City putting runners on second and first with one out. Pitcher Austin Gottula retired back-to-back batters — one via strikeout and another on groundout — to end the threat.
“Keeping them scoreless there was obviously big, and a lot of credit goes to Austin for working out of the jam the way he did,” Weaver said. “That obviously set up the game-winning homer for Prudhom, which was a no-doubter.”
Gottula was credited the win after tossing two shutout innings.
Starter Chase Plymell limited Jefferson City to two earned runs in six innings before reliever Austin Neal surrendered one run in the seventh. Dalton Weaver also tossed a scoreless frame in the eighth.
The Outlaws open a nine-game road trip on Friday when they taken on the St. Joseph Mustangs at 7 p.m. at Welch Stadium.
“We also have (Jefferson City) three more times in this upcoming road trip, and they’re obviously right there with us in the division race,” Weaver said. “So those will be key games — not saying that any of them will be more important than the others. But when you have three games against a team in your division, you really want to win those.”