The Jefferson City Renegades spent a vast majority of Thursday’s MINK League contest against the Sedalia Bombers battling from behind.
And the Renegades fell short in their comeback bid, as an early grand slam set the tone for the Bombers and helped push them to an 11-6 victory.
“They got the bases loaded and got a big swing to put us down 4-0,” Renegades coach Mike DeMilia said. “… We kept coming, but it was just one of those things we couldn’t quite push across enough runs.”
Sedalia stranded a pair in scoring position in the first inning but ended up breaking through in the second.
Brock Kobel and Sam Benz hit consecutive singles to lead off the frame and Helias graduate Nick Jeffries walked to load the bases with no outs.
Jefferson City starting pitcher Manny Gonzalez was able to pick up a strikeout to follow, but Nic Beech jumped on a first-pitch fastball as the next batter and sent it on top of the batting cage beyond the left-field fence for a grand slam.
“Manny struggled a little bit with command tonight,” DeMilia said. “He walked a few guys but it was more he was missing up in the zone.”
The Renegades knew they would have their hands full down four runs against Sedalia pitcher Antonio Escano, and he was as good as advertised.
Escano threw six innings on the mound and collected the win, striking out nine while allowing just two runs on two hits and two walks.
“(Escano) is a stud, we have seen now a couple times,” DeMilia said. “He’s pitched in this league for three years, I think. We competed hard, it just wasn’t enough tonight.”
Jefferson City was able to get to Escano on the mound in back-to-back innings.
Eli Hill was the first as the leadoff batter of the bottom of the second, as he connected on a 1-0 fastball and drove it just over the left-field fence for a home run.
In the third inning, Luke Matschiner reached with a one-out single and used his legs to score the second run, taking second on a passed ball before moving up two more bases on consecutive wild pitches to cut the deficit to 4-2.
“We put some good swings on the ball,” DeMilia said. “We hit some balls right at them. … He was fairly dominate towards the end, but I thought we competed well. Against a kid like that, it’s hard to square up a bunch of balls in a row.”
Sedalia would take the control for good with a four-run sixth.
Walks and errors cost the Renegades in the sixth, as Nick Panagos walked three and hit another batter in the frame while his defense behind him made two mistakes -- leading to four runs on just two hits to make it 8-2.
“We just didn’t throw enough strikes,” DeMilia said. “… That’s the biggest thing with this game, if you can limit your walks and errors, you force a team to put a bunch of good swings together and that’s hard to do. We didn’t do that in the sixth.”
The Renegades did not go down without a fight after Sedalia added another run in the seventh, though.
Jefferson City put together a four-run seventh to pull within three runs at 9-6, as Kam Durnin led off with a single, Luke Melton followed with a double and five straight Renegades drew a walk with two outs to push across three runs before Matschiner stole home to make it a three-run game.
“We were disciplined,” DeMilia said. “It’s not like their pitchers were missing very badly, they were close on some calls. We were able to be disciplined enough to not chase pitches out of the zone. It wasn’t the best for them, but we had something to do with it by making sure the ball is in the zone.”
Sedalia was able to add its final two runs in the eighth inning to eliminate any chance of a comeback, as Jefferson City stranded two runners in the eighth before stranding another in the ninth to end the game.
Helias graduate Jaden Kolb had a strong outing in relief for the Renegades, striking out two in 2⅓ scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and a walk.
Jeffries finished 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored for the Bombers (4-5), while Beech led the way by going 2-for-4 with four RBI, a walk and two runs scored.
Matschiner led the way for Jefferson City (4-7) with his 1-for-4 performance with two runs scored, Rock Bridge graduate Dane Gray added a hit and reached base via walk twice and Hill finished 1-for-4 with his homer.
The Renegades will look to bounce back with a doubleheader at Vivion Field today against the Des Moines Prospects. Both games will be seven innings with Game 1 set to start at 5 p.m.