An ugly game had a fitting ending.
The Mid-Missouri Mavericks came through in the bottom of the ninth on a misplayed fly ball to defeat the Kalamazoo Kings 4-3 in a game that featured seven errors, five by the Mavericks, on Thursday at Taylor Stadium.
With the bases loaded and two outs, Seth Brown hit a weak fly ball tailing toward the left-field line. Kalamazoo second baseman Tino Burgos and right fielder Tory Haven gave chase. Haven called off Burgos but proceeded to overrun the ball, and it dropped behind him for a Mavericks victory.
“Obviously, you want to be the hero who gets the solid base hit through the infield or in the gap,” Brown said. “I got a good pitch to hit and didn’t great wood on it.
“Obviously, you’d like to get a hit, but E9 and a win ... I’ll take it. Your teammates mob you, and you’re almost embarrassed because you didn’t do anything.”
The Mavericks had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth when Cooper Vittitow hit a hard liner to left with one out. The ball bounced off the heel of left fielder Walt Simmons’ glove and was ruled a double.
Jake Whitesides followed with a towering drive to right field. Vittitow held up as the ball appeared to hit off the 370 sign in right-center field, which under Frontier League rules should be a home run. The 370 sign is about 1 foot behind the wall, manager Papo Davila said.
According to Brown, the umpire believed it hit the Budweiser sign, which is part of the wall.
“That ball clearly hit the 370 sign,” Brown said. “It hit the 7, actually, on the 370 sign.”
When the umpires gave no signal, Vittitow then started making a break toward home, with Whitesides trailing by less than 90 feet.
The relay throw home easily beat Vittitow, and catcher Matthew Kent blocked the plate and applied the tag for the second out. Whitesides followed Vittitow home, attempting to avoid Kent by catching the back end of the plate, but Kent rebounded in time to tag Whitesides for the double play.
The Mavericks hit into four double plays.
In a mistake-laden game, Mid-Missouri starter Grant Dorn made few. He struck out 11, but didn’t get a decision because the bullpen and defense collapsed.
“[Dorn] was using more of the curveball and the splitter more than the fastball,” Davila said. “He took the 3-4-5 hitters out of the lineup so easily.”
“Dorn has been doing a (great) job for us in the last four appearances.”
Dorn made three Maverick errors a nonfactor through six innings, but Davila pulled him in the seventh because of a high pitch count (93). Relief pitchers could not prevent the fourth error from being costly.
Whitesides appeared to be in position to make a play on a fly to center with one out in the seventh, but he slipped as the ball hit his mitt.
The ball dribbled away as Burgos raced in from second to tie the game at 3.
The Mavericks took the lead in the bottom of the third.
With men on first and third and two outs, Whitesides hit a chopper up the middle that bounced over the head of pitcher David McWatters. McWatters reached up in an attempt to grab it, but the ball glanced off his glove.
Burgos charged in to pick up the ball and threw to first. The throw arrived at the bag at the same time as Whitesides. As Whitesides stumbled and fell awkwardly in foul territory, the umpire signaled him safe, and Brown scored.
Bill Greenwell followed with a single, scoring Vittitow to give the Mavericks a 3-1 lead.
With two outs in the top of the first inning, Haven doubled over the head of Whitesides, scoring Matthew Kent for the first run.
The Mavericks tied it in the bottom of the second. Greenwell singled to center as Brian Ferreira slipped before he could get to the ball.
Ferreira’s throw to second missed the bag to the left side by a considerable margin and rolled all the way into infield foul territory as no King backed up the throw. Greenwell moved to second on the error.
Greenwell advanced to third on a Jose Carreno single, then scored as Blake Blase grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.