By Levi Payton
NEOSHO, Mo. — Something finally went right for the Joplin Slashers.
After losing four straight games, coach Dennis Vilela knew his team needed a boost in confidence. He got his wish with Wednesday night’s come from behind 3-2 victory over the Chillicothe Mudcats on Roughrider Field at Crowder College.
Pitchers Quentin Morgan and C.J. Maffei didn't surprise anyone with their solid performances. Both pitchers thwarted several attacks from the Mudcats. Morgan battled back from leadoff hits in three of the first four innings to keep runs off the board.
Maffei (4-0) earned the victory after coming on in the seventh to toss three scoreless innings.
Offensively, Kyle Hawkins came up big for the Slashers. Despite his struggles earlier in the season, Hawkins' bat produced the game-winning hit in the eighth when he slugged an RBI single that scored Will McGinnis, who had walked to lead off the inning.
"I'm so proud of Kyle Hawkins and his approach right now," Vilela said. "He just keeps working and working and guys who work like that see results. I also thought our pitching was outstanding."
The Slashers got in a little trouble in the sixth when the Mudcats plated two runs. Those runs would not have happened had the Slashers been able to turn what appeared to be a rather routine double play. However, they got only one out and allowed the first run to score when the relay throw from second skipped past first base and Luke Schlechte came across with the game's first run. Aaron Conway followed with an RBI triple.
"Had we turned that double play (the game) would have been wrapped up (sooner)," Vilela said. "I thought our pitchers did a great job making quality pitches tonight."
Joplin stormed back with a pair of runs in the seventh to tie it, 2-2. Both runs scored with two outs as Patrick Walsh singled, stole second and scored on a Jeff Meadows single. Colby Price then pounded a double to the wall in left center that scored Meadows from first.
"It was a great win," Vilela said. "We didn't give up."
Will McGinnis and Hawkins each ripped a pair of hits for the Slashers. Matty Johnson had a pair of hits for the Mudcats.
The Slashers return to Jayhawk League action tonight against the Nevada Griffons. First pitch is at 7 in Nevada.
Notes: The game acted as a homecoming of sorts for a handful of players and and even a few of the coaches. Joplin's Will McGinnis and Kevin Enkleman as well as Chillicothe's Matty Johnson, and Bubby Williams are Crowder players. Slashers coach Jim Ritter is on the Roughriders coaching staff, and Mudcats coach Jud Kindle is a former Crowder and Missouri State University standout.
By Levi Payton