Mid-Missouri’s Chris Barbettini came in to close out the game with an almost perfect situation.
He had a two-run cushion, and he was about to face the bottom third of Rockford’s lineup in the ninth inning.
Six batters and five hits later, Barbettini left the game down a run, and with a blown save and a loss to his credit.
The Mavericks lost to Rockford 5-4 on Saturday night at Taylor Stadium.
“I brought my setup man in the game, and then turned it over to my closer who always ends the game,” Mavs manager Papo Davila said. “And Barbettini struggled a little bit. We tried to come back in the bottom of the ninth, but we were not able to get the hit.”
The Mavericks almost staged a rally in the ninth, but were unable to capitalize with men on second and third with one out.
Jake Whitesides struck out looking on three pitches. After an intentional walk to Bill Greenwell, Jose Carreno struck out looking to end the game and the series against Rockford.
George Lehr had to come in for Barbettini (4-5) to get the final two outs.
Justin Stine, who started for the Mavericks (29-46), allowed a first-pitch home run to Rockford leadoff hitter Tony Pigott, but then settled down to turn in a solid pitching performance.
“I look at that as a fluke,” Stine said. “It’s one pitch out of a hundred-plus I’m going to make that game. It happens, and it’s one of those things where I have to get dialed in and go after the second, third and fourth hitter.”
Stine struck out eight in six innings while only allowing two runs on four hits.
Dan Moellering relieved him in the seventh and turned in two more strong innings.
“That’s all you can ask for, is for the team to get us to the eighth or ninth inning so we can turn it over to our closer,” Stine said. “It was just one of those nights.”
Shannon Royal started for Rockford (39-35) and allowed five hits in five innings.
Jason Glosser (2-1) picked up the victory for the Riverhawks in relief.
The Mavericks scored two runs in the bottom half of the first. Bill Greenwell drew a bases-loaded walk. Wes Fewell drove in another run when he grounded into a double play.
“We came out and played eight good innings,” Greenwell said. “But the ninth was a real tough one for us.”
Rockford’s Tory Haven single in the third drove in Pigott to tie the game at two. Greenwell put Mid-Missouri back on top with an RBI double to left in the fifth. Greenwell later scored on a Royal wild pitch to put the Mavs up 4-2.
The Mavericks had the makings of an even bigger fifth, but they were unable to take advantage. Seth Brown stood at third after a balk and another wild pitch, but Blake Blase, who leads Mid-Missouri with eight home runs, struck out swinging to end the inning.