If baseball could be compared to a foot race, the Mid-Missouri Mavericks have developed a startling tendency to stumble out of the starting blocks.
Attempting to avoid a series sweep and the prospect of going winless in their six-game home stand, the Mavericks fell behind early to the River City Rascals and could not come back in a 6-5 loss Tuesday night at Taylor Stadium.
Heavy rains delayed the start of the game nearly an hour, but once the game began, River City (37-41) came out swinging and put Mid-Missouri down six almost before those in attendance had a chance to return to their seats.
The Mavericks (29-49) and starter Lenny Bays settled down after that, and scored three in the fifth, but the deficit proved to be too much.
“I don’t really know what to say,” Mavericks manager Mark Schlosser said. “It’s hard to explain why we came out so flat.
“Sometimes you sit there and you anticipate not playing, but I don’t think that was really the case. I think (River City) just came out and jumped out right away. They are on a roll, and when teams are on a roll it’s really tough to stop them.”
Bays (6-9) allowed six runs on nine hits in six innings. He walked three while striking out five.
“I think the big key was Lenny,” right fielder Spencer Doyle said. “It’s tough to come out after a rain delay, but he came back and really pitched good after the first couple innings.”
A suddenly resurgent bullpen turned in three hitless innings to keep Mid-Missouri in the game. Going back to the third inning of Monday night’s game, the Mavericks bullpen allowed three runs in 9 1/3 innings.
“They really closed the door and gave us a chance,” Schlosser said. “That’s what a bullpen is supposed to do. I’ve got confidence in those guys. Anyone down there, it really doesn’t matter, we can roll any one of them out.”
Wes Jaillet started for River City and was effective in 4 2/3 innings.
His start was not as long as his predecessors on the two previous nights, but ran into trouble only in the three-run Mavericks’ fifth.
Jaillet allowed three runs on six hits while walking three and striking out six.
Dan Shouse relieved Jaillet and earned the victory.
The Rascals’ three runs in the first all came with two outs.
Third baseman Chris Klosterman doubled down the right field line to score one. Catcher Joe Kalczynski sent another double to right that scored another. He later scored on right fielder John Denny’s bloop single.
Bays found more trouble in the second.
With the bases loaded, Kalczynski again doubled, this one to left, that drove in three more.
The ball went into a puddle deep in the left-field corner, one of a few left after the rain, to put River City up 6-0.
The Mavericks strung together some hits in the fifth to score their first runs.
Doyle scored one with an RBI single to right, and Cooper Vittitow added another when he reached on an error by the pitcher to pull the Mavs within 6-2.
After a walk to first baseman Bill Greenwell, the Mavs had the makings of a huge inning, but they were only able to score one more.
The Mavericks continued their comeback bid in the sixth with two more runs to pull within 6-5.
Two River City errors aided the Mavs in the inning. They scored their runs on an infield single by second baseman Adam Rittenhouse, who advanced to third on shortstop Brian Weiss’ throwing error.
Mid-Missouri then came within inches of tying the game in the seventh.
With left fielder Blake Blase on second after a double, Wes Fewell lined a single up the middle and it appeared Blase would score easily.
Center fielder Mike Conner’s throw home barely beat Blase to squelch the Mavericks’ threat.
“With two outs you have got to send him,” Schlosser said. “We are going to continue to play a pressure game, and that’s what we did there. Unfortunately they rose to the occasion.”