It hasn't been the best start to the summer for Thomas Reuther, who entered Tuesday night's game against the St. Joseph Mustangs with four hits.
But with the game tied in the eighth inning, the Jefferson City Renegades needed his bat if they wanted to complete a two-game series sweep.
With two outs and a runner at second, Reuther rocketed a liner to center field to drive in Dede Cole for what ended up being the deciding run in a 7-6 victory for the Renegades at Vivion Field.
"Tommy has had a bit of a rough year so far," Renegades coach Mike DeMilia said, "but he's been swinging better and better and hit the double early and came up with a really big hit there. He's definitely improving."
Reuther, batting out of the No. 8 spot, had two of Jefferson City's 12 hits with that RBI and a run scored in the third off Peyton's Leeper's one-hop double off the fence in right-center field to tie it at 1.
Cole, who entered the game for Myles Ivory, set up Reuther for the deciding RBI by getting a shallow fly ball to drop in center field and stealing second base during an 0-2 count.
"We were just looking for a spark," DeMilia said. "Their bullpen was pretty good and they had some guys that were throwing pretty hard. I thought it was a decent matchup."
The Renegades took their first lead of the game in the sixth when Gaven Strobel hit a double that just grazed the left fielder's glove for a two-RBI hit.
"I was going, I was hoping for two," Strobel, a former Jefferson City Jay, said. "As soon as I starting to round first base I saw it nicked off his glove so I just hustled into second."
That hit gave Jefferson City a 4-3 lead and Lincoln Orellana followed with an RBI single to score Strobel, who just joined the team after a deep postseason run with the Central Missouri Mules.
"It was nice being back," Strobel said. "I haven't been here since last year playing with Chillicothe. It's good to be back. I just wanted to stay close to home. They had a pretty good team last year so I thought I'd join on and stay home."
Shane Fontenot closed out the win with a groundout, a strikeout and flyout for the save.
"I think I probably should have put him in with two outs in the eighth," DeMilia said. " He did what we asked him to do: fill up the zone and make the other team beat him."
Reuther recorded the final out in center field, sliding to his left to grab KarlKoerper's fly ball.
"I thought it might be a double," DeMilia said. "The good thing is it was a line drive so I knew it was going to stay in the yard. Fortunately Tommy was actually doing what he should. With two outs he played a little deeper and fortunately he hit it right at him."
St. Joseph (9-3) tied the game at 6 in the top of the eighth when Jackson Dierenfeldt doubled to right-center field to score two runs.
Ethan Rackers got the start on the mound, lasting 4 innings. He allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits and five walks with two strikeouts.
Christian Thrasher then went 2 innings, striking out seven while walking three and allowing a run.
Thrasher got the final batter in the seventh to strike out swinging to strand a runner at third base and had some words for Koerper.
"St. Joseph, they are a pretty vocal group and I think they might have been saying some things to Christian," DeMilia said. "I didn't like what Christian did. I don't want to get into that kind of thing.
"I want to play baseball and Christian kind of screamed at their hitter. He didn't need to do that but the good thing about Christian is that he's competitive. I don't think he's really that type of guy. He got caught up in the moment and was apologetic about it."
Colton Hoelscher was credited with the win, allowing a hit and a walk in one-third of an inning.
Jefferson City got seven hits and five runs off St. Joseph starter Alec Byous, who walked two in five innings.
Jared Wilson took the loss, allowing a run on three hits and a walk with a strikeout in an inning of work.
Jefferson City (4-5) will host the Ozark Generals at 5 p.m. today for a doubleheader.