SPRINGFIELD — Isaac Mitchell didn’t collect the victory he was going for Monday, but did gain the redemption he sought.
Mitchell was fairly dominant for six innings while keeping Kickapoo hitters at bay, before the Chiefs rallied to beat the senior southpaw and Nixa 3-2, thanks to a two-run seventh.
Regardless of the final outcome, Mitchell’s outing was much more like what the Eagles have grown accustomed to from him, especially compared to his last start. A week ago, Ozark plated 10 runs over four innings against Mitchell.
Mitchell held Kickapoo to five hits and struck out 11.
“I was pretty anxious to go today. I wanted to show what I still have in me and that I’m not going anywhere,” Mitchell said. “I feel I got back to where I wanted to be until the very end.
“My off-speed pitches were working,” he added. “I wasn’t leaving them over the middle of the plate and was making them chase. I wanted to make them do the work if they were going to hit.”
Mitchell’s domination abruptly came to an end when Kickapoo’s Boone Shevey ripped a two-run single to right-center to bring home the tying and winning runs with two outs in the seventh. Carter Vienhage sparked the Chiefs’ comeback with a lead-off single.
It was Mitchell’s third time through the top of Kickapoo’s lineup.
“I was pretty confident against those guys, based off the last at-bats they had,” Mitchell said. “But I also knew at that point in the game they knew what I had. I knew I was going to have to make the most perfect pitch I could and I just didn’t do that. They did what they needed to do to put pressure on us and make us finish off the game. All the pressure was on us after their lead-off hit.”
“Isaac should be proud. He threw great for seven innings,” catcher Jaret Nelson said. “It’s really hard to face a lineup three times in a game. If you face somebody three times, they’re going to have a pretty good idea what is going on.”
Nixa’s defense was a bit shaky in the seventh, aiding the Chiefs’ comeback.
“You can’t ever be sure until last out is recorded,” Eagles coach Jason Daugherty said. “We’ve got to make some routine plays. But it’s a team game.”
“A couple hits here and there and a couple errors on our part, but we’re going to stick together,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell added his psyche wasn’t shaken by the loss to Ozark.
“Mentally, it didn’t bother me too much,” he said. “But I was upset how I executed pitches. I know that’s not me and I could get back right where I need to. I left pitches over the middle and threw too good of pitches on 0-2. I had to make sure that didn’t happen in this game.”
“I was confident in him,” outfielder Sam Russo said of Mitchell. “He had a chip on his shoulder after the Ozark game. I knew he wasn’t going to let that happen again.”
Nixa led 2-0 on an RBI-single by Alek Johnson in the third inning. But the insurance run or two the Eagles were seeking proved elusive.
“We had a couple chances and didn’t get some guys in,” Daugherty said. “They did a good job pitching out of some trouble.”
The Eagles have scored a combined 10 runs in their last three losses.
“We are trying to find a complete nine guys who are all swinging it," Daugherty said. "The guys who aren’t swinging need to start swinging it or we’ll try to mix and match some guys who are swinging. We need to be solid 1-9.
"Ozark, Webb City and Kickapoo, it’s not like we’re facing chumps," he added. "We’re playing some good teams.”