Things have changed, and the Mid-Missouri Mavericks are no longer to be taken lightly.
The Mavs completed a sweep of the first-place Rockford RiverHawks in convincing fashion with a 10-3 victory Tuesday night at Taylor Stadium.
“We can beat anybody right now,” Mavericks starter Jason Wiedmeyer said. “It’s a shame they don’t have a second-half winner.”
After allowing Rockford (36-27) to take the lead in the fifth inning on three unearned runs, the Mavs (16-45) stormed back to grab the lead the good.
Rafael Lara, whose two-out error opened the door for the RiverHawks in the fifth, led off with a single. Lara stole second, and Dusty Hillman walked. Lara and Hillman pulled off a double steal as C.J. Thomas struck out.
Blake Blase singled to left field to drive home Lara, and Hillman moved to third. Thomari Story-Harden hit a deep sacrifice fly to center, driving home Hillman and giving the Mavs a 4-3 lead.
“We have to be (aggressive),” Mavs manager Jim Gentile said. “I’ve got some guys who can run, so I’m going to try to be aggressive.
Mid-Missouri buried Rockford in the sixth. Brent Metheny led off with a single, then stole second. After Eric Darjean popped out, Worth Scott singled through the hole between first and second to put runners on the corners.
Lara then grounded to third, but third baseman Ryan Larson’s throw to Shaff Elkouri at second went wide, and Elkouri dropped it. Metheny scored on the play, and the Mavs stretched their lead to 5-3.
Hillman walked to load the bases, and C.J. Thomas walked to drive home Scott to increase the lead to 6-3.
Rockford catcher Dave Bernstine allowed a passed ball that scored Lara, and the other runners moved to second and third. Blase, who was mired in a slump entering Wednesday, laced a double down the left field line to give Mid-Missouri a 9-3 lead.
Blase went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, breaking out of a slump that dropped his average from about .310 to .264 entering Tuesday.
“I’ve been struggling to stay back on the ball,” Blase said. “Today I tried to be a little patient and go the other way with the ball, and I got a couple of hits today.”
Wiedmeyer (2-5) rebounded from the three unearned runs to hold Rockford scoreless through the seventh.