Darkness forces suspension of Griffons contest with St. Joe

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Nevada Griffons erased a six-run deficit before having its road contest with the St. Joseph Mustangs suspended due to darkness.

It was announced late Tuesday that electrical issues at Phil Welch Stadium in St Joe's were likely going to force the Mustangs Wednesday night game with Nevada, scheduled for 7 p.m., to be moved up to an earlier start time.

Despite the contest starting nearly two hours ahead of schedule, any thoughts of the game ending before sunset were foiled by a late-inning Nevada rally, leading to extra frames. With the stadium's lighting inadequate to continue play, the game is now slated to resume July 20, tied 9-9 in the top of the 10th inning.

Trailing 9-3, the Griffons began to chip away at their deficit in the top of the eighth, as a Trevor Peterson fielders choice ground out plated Tanner Wetrich.

Trailing by five runs heading into the ninth, the Griffons mounted a wild rally, coming all the way back to tie the game. Making the comeback all the more remarkable, was that St. Joe's closer Jonathan Lynch, opened the frame with two quick outs.

The Mustangs epic collapse began when Lynch issued back-to-back walks to Cole Johnson and Wetrich. Nevada then loaded the bases courtesy of a Louis Mele fielding error at first base. A Conner Pomering RBI-single inched the Griffons closer as they trailed 9-5. Following Pomering, a Peterson base hit brought home Wetrich.

With the bases paths again full, Kainulu Pitoy, hitting atop the Griffons order, drew a full-count walk. Lynch's third walk of the inning scored Jaxxon Fagg as the Griffons trimmed the Mustangs lead to 9-7. Plagued by control issues, Lynch drilled Ethaniel Valdez, allowing Pomering to cross home plate, leaving the Mustangs clinging to a 9-8 lead.

Unable to record the game's final out, Mustangs manager Matt Johnson removed Lynch from the contest, replacing him on the hill with Jake Purl. Nevada's comeback was complete when Purl uncorked a wild pitch, plating Peterson from third to tie the game 9-9. With runners in scoring position and RBI-machine Tyler Pagano at the plate, Purl was able to induce a ground out to end the inning.

Coming out for his second inning on the mound, Griffons relief pitcher Adam Eskil found himself in trouble in the bottom of the ninth. With runners on the corners and two outs, Eskil dodged a bullet when Jacob Richardson was gunned down by catcher Pomering as he attempted to steal second base, leaving Orencio Fisher stranded at third.

After nine innings of play, the umpiring crew made the call to suspend play as darkness fell on Jack Welch Stadium.

For Nevada at the dish, Wetrich was 1-for-3 with three runs scored; Peterson 1-for-4 with three RBIs and a run; and Pitoy 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI.

Wednesday's contest was the final game of the first half of the season. The Griffons (13-10) entered the MINK League All-Star break sitting one game back of the first place Joplin Outlaws in the south division.

All-Star Game

The electrical issues at Phil Welch Stadium were repaired in time for Thursday night's second annual MINK League All-Start Game. The ASG featured 12 Griffons, as well as Nevada's Ryan Mansfield who was selected to coach the South squad.

The South division team didn't fare well, as they were defeated by the North squad 9-2.

Representing the Griffons, Wetrich was 1-for-2 with a run scored; Pagano 1-for-4 with an RBI; Judah Zickafoose 1-for-4; Pitoy 0-for-4; Johnson 0-for-2; Valdez 0-for-1 and Jake McPhail 0-for-1.

Despite the North's margin of victory, Griffons pitching was flawless. On the mound for Nevada, Aaron Barteau tossed a clean second inning while recording a strike out; Jack Burk also pitched a scoreless inning, fanning two; while Griffons closer Tyler Butcher fired a scoreless frame. The trio of Nevada pitchers combined for three perfect innings.

Home run derby

The MINK League Home Run Derby took place prior to Thursday's ASG. Representing the Griffons was Pagano. But it was Chillicothe's Nick Banman who stole the show, launching 50 home runs over the course of three rounds.

Banman swatted 15 round-trippers in the first round, followed by 21 in the second round. With a three minute time limit in the third and final round, Banman still managed to mash 14 more.

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