The Jefferson City Renegades managed just two hits in a 5-2 loss to the Chillicothe Mudcats on Wednesday night at Vivion Field, which snapped a four-game streak in which the Renegades scored at least seven runs.
The home team didn't have a baserunner until the fourth inning or a hit until the seventh inning against Chillicothe starter Trae Brownell, who struck out two and walked three in 7 scoreless innings. The Renegades' two hits were singles by Logan Hudson and Cole Evans.
Jefferson City's Kaden Helsel was cruising right alongside Brownell, and fanning more batters, until he gave up a leadoff single and two straight walks to load the bases with no outs in the fifth. A fielder's choice and a single drove in two runs, but Helsel was able to prevent further damage.
He just never got any run support.
"To me, I told the guys, 'If we only give up five runs, I expect to win,'" Renegades coach Mike DeMilia said. "We've been good offensively all year. If we continue to do that, the bounce will come around again, I think we're going to put up runs most games."
Control was an issue for the Jefferson City pitching staff all night. Helsel struck out seven in five innings of work but walked three and hit one; reliever Daniel Lloyd struck out two and walked one in the sixth inning, Ethan Rackers hit two and walked one in an inning of work and closer Jeremy Hidalgo hit one, walked one and committed an error that allowed two runs to score in two innings of work.
"We've just got an inexperienced pitching staff," DeMilia said. "Hidalgo threw a lot in the spring, but Helsel is going to be a freshman in college, Rackers and Lloyd didn't pitch at all in the spring. So that's where a lot of it comes into play. Certainly coming into the year we knew some of these guys were a little bit wild and we had to work with that.
"I think it'll get better as the summer goes, but it definitely is hurting us in some games, that's for sure."
It was an uncharacteristic defensive night for the Renegades as well. The Mudcats stole four bases on five attempts, and a diving attempt at a catch in right field in the seventh inning by Evans resulted in an RBI triple for Chillicothe. Center fielder Ridge Rogers made a fantastic full-extension grab running in for the second out of the ninth inning but the effort rolled him onto his thumb and Rogers left the game to get it checked at the hospital.
The Renegades are now 7-5 in MINK League play, and the Mudcats are 4-9. The two teams will play again at 7 p.m. today at Vivion Field.