For 8 1/2 innings, the JC Legends looked like they were going to pull it off.
But those last three outs proved to be elusive.
The Jefferson City Renegades scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning Tuesday night to rally past the Legends 3-2 in an exhibition game at Vivion Field.
"We knew they were going to be good when I saw the roster," Renegades coach Mike DeMilia said. "That's what we want, we don't need to win a game like this 12-0, we need to face good competition and that's what we definitely saw tonight."
For the Legends, it was a disappointing ending to a pretty good night.
"We had fun, we battled," Legends left fielder Blake McPheeters said. "We battled through 8 1/2 and were fortunate some hard-hit balls were right at us and we made some plays.
"We're all competitive and we wanted to win."
Derek Shikles was a standout in center field for the Legends, making a handful of diving catches or tracking down balls in the gaps to help keep the Renegades off the scoreboard.
"He saved a lot of runs for us with a lot of good plays," McPheeters said.
Shikles' best catch came in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, Brady Voss of the Renegades belted a 2-1 pitch to deep center that Shikles, a catcher at Westminster, snared before knocking the gate open under the scoreboard.
"That's a play a lot of college center fielders don't make," DeMilia said. "He single-handedly kept them in the game with his plays.
"I know he's athletic, but a couple of those plays, goodness."
The game was scoreless until the Legends scored twice in the top of the sixth.
With one out, Shikles was hit by a pitch and stole second. Parker Schnieders followed with a walk before Josiah Imhoff hit an infield single to load the bases.
McPheeters then singled to right to score Shikles to make it 1-0. McPheeters said it was his first hit in an organized baseball game since 2003.
"Just to battle, the competitive fire in you to get out here with the younger guys to play, it was fun," McPheeters said. "Baseball is great, it's a great game to get to play."
Schnieders doubled the Legends' lead when he scored on a wild pitch.
The Legends limited to the Renegades to just four hits through eight innings.
"All of their guys gave us all we could handle," DeMilia said.
Ben Burton drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the ninth for the Renegades. Hamilton Anderson then doubled to center on a ball Shikles just missed making a diving catch to score Burton.
After a wild pitch moved Anderson to third, Ale Claro doubled to left to tie the game.
"Finally, a couple of balls dropped that we weren't getting earlier in the game," DeMilia said.
A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases before Joe Zink was hit by a pitch to score Claro with the game winner.
Shane Fontenot, the fifth Renegades pitcher of the night, got the win. He allowed two hits and struck out four in the final two innings.
This was the first of three consecutive home exhibition games for the Renegades. They will host the Kansas City Monarchs at 7 p.m. today before another game against the Legends at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The Renegades will wrap up MINK League play with home games against the Joplin Outlaws on Friday and Saturday.
The exhibitions were scheduled after Nevada called off the remainder of its season due to COVID-19. The Renegades were slated to play Nevada four times
"It would have been nice to play Nevada in those games," DeMilia said.
The Renegades are currently tied with the Outlaws for second place in the South Division after Joplin dropped an 8-3 decision Tuesday night at Sedalia. Joplin and Sedalia, which leads the Renegades by 3 1/2 games in the division, will play today and Thursday as well.
Second place in the division will be decided by winning percentage, with the runner-up hosting the third-place team in a wild-card game next Monday.
The Renegades are hoping to finish second so they can play at home in the playoffs for the first time in their history.
"Having that home game will be pretty special," DeMilia said.