Mules split doubleheader with Washburn

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(KIRKWOOD, Mo.) – The third-ranked Central Missouri Mules split a pair of close games with the Washburn Icabods, playing at a neutral site near St. Louis. The Icabods earned an extra-innings, 8-6 victory in game one before the Mules used a three-run sixth inning to come from behind in game two, winning 5-4.
Both offenses got to work early, as both Central Missouri and Washburn scored a run in the first inning. After starting pitcher Kurtis Schuyler pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the second, the Mules rallied for a four-run inning to take a strong lead. Third baseman Tucker Cross led off with a solo shot, hitting his third home run of the season to give the Mules the lead. A pair of errors on the part of Washburn along with a walk loaded the bases for Brad Wilson, who cranked a double to left center, clearing the bases and pushing the UCM lead to 5-1.
Washburn chipped away at the lead over the next few innings, scoring runs in the third and fourth innings. With three hits in the fifth inning, the Icabods scored a pair of runs to close the Mules lead to 6-5. They tied the score in the next inning with a leadoff walk, sacrifice bunt, and RBI single, making it a 6-6 game.
Originally scheduled for seven innings, the first game of the day went into extra innings, where Washburn again knocked three hits while another runner reached on an error, finishing the half-inning with two runs scored, which would prove to be enough to hand the Mules their second MIAA loss of the season. Washburn finished with 17 hits off the UCM pitching staff, most by any opponent this season.
Right fielder Kevin Gratza had a strong day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.
In the second game, the Mules found themselves down 3-0 early, as Washburn hit a pair of home runs in the top of the first. Central Missouri went down in order through the first three innings, but broke through in the fourth while holding the Icabods scoreless after the first inning. A pair of two-out hits from Kyle Grieshaber and Wilson, coupled with a fielding error from Washburn scored Grishaber to pull the Mules to within two runs after four innings.
After Washburn pushed a run across in the fifth, the Mules answered with one of their own, as Jon Cotter singled with two on to make it a 4-2 ballgame. The Mules broke through for good in the sixth inning of the 7-inning contest, taking the lead with a three-run inning. Grieshaber led off with an infield single, followed by Wilson’s single to right. After a pitching change, Gratza singled in Grieshaber, making it a one-run lead for the Icabods.
A wild pitch moved everybody up 90 feet, as Wilson then scored to tie the game on a groundout from Cross. Washburn decided to intentionally walk Chase Graskewicz, but Gratza then scored on the second wild pitch of the inning on the next at bat, giving the Mules a 5-4 lead. Devon Brogan and Jake Heissler teamed up to throw a perfect seventh inning, closing the door for the win.
Brogan picked up the win after closing out the sixth inning, while Heissler earned the save, as the bullpen did not give up a hit in the second game. Grieshaber, Wilson and Gratza all finished with a pair of hits, and scored all five runs for the Mules.
UCM and Washburn will finish out the three-game series Saturday, playing another neutral site game at St. Mary’s High School in St. Louis, starting at 1 p.m.