Outlaws seek program’s first South Division title

Joplin is in first place in the division with three games remaining

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin Outlaws have secured a spot in the 2022 playoffs, but the work is far from over.

“I am extremely happy for this group,” says head coach Gonzalo Gonzalez. “Like I’ve said time and time again, they have come together to play the game selflessly and they’re doing a great job of playing the game the way it’s intended. They’re not getting out of their swings, they’re not walking too many guys as of late and they’re making other teams earn their runs. I think we have the position guys to get it done and our pitching is riding high at the moment to be able to get the job done as well.”

The Outlaws are hunting down the program’s first ever South Division title. They are currently leading the division with three games remaining on their schedule, beginning with Jefferson City tonight.

“It’s just handling business,” Gonzalez says. “Jeff City can hit a little bit just like Nevada can, so the key to our success over the next few days against them is going to be pitching and defense. I know our offense is going to be able to handle them, so it’s just making sure we’re doing the little things right every day and we’re playing clean defense and we’re not giving away free bases. If we do that, I think we’re going to come out on top.”

Joplin has momentum. They are currently riding a nine game winning streak which ties the program record.  The players are dialed in and excited for a chance to make history.

“The first thing I saw this morning when I woke up was a text message from my team saying, “Lets go get this one,” Gonzalez says. “Coach Fornelli said it best this past year – you feel like you’re doing the right thing when you’re not involved as much and the guys take care of it by themselves. That’s how you know you have a good culture, that’s how you know you have good communication between the team and the team is holding each other accountable.”

The coaching staff has managed to get the players to buy in all season. The team’s commitment and comradery is a big part of their success.

“Right around the all star break one of our all stars, Mike Long, had unfortunately hurt his hand, but instead of going home he stayed,” Gonzalez says. “He’s still working, he wants to be around the guys, he wants to be in the dugout and he’s contributing in any way possible for us to win. That’s how I know that my coaches and I are doing our job the right way.”

Some players have had to return home, including two of the Outlaws’ key players this season, Garrett Chun and Liam Bailey.

“It was really tough for Garrett Chun to leave,” Gonzalez says. “There was a lot of tears in the dugout. Usually that’s something you don’t see in summer baseball, but these guys have grown really close. Same thing the other night with Liam Bailey leaving.  I really think that when you see reactions like that, as a coach, it makes you feel good because it’s bittersweet that they left but hopefully it means that we left a meaningful impact on their lives and their career.”

Despite the roster changes, Gonzalez is confident in the Outlaws depth.

“Korrey Siracusa has been really good as a role player for us this summer,” Gonzalez says. “This summer he’s played a lot of really solid second base and surprisingly very good third base as well. His ability to fill in on the infield is going to be key for us. As far as the outfield is concerned, our outfielders have been doing a great job so far. Guys have been filling in when they can and when they need to. We’ve had a late pickup in Jakob Machuca from Southern Arkansas, and I think he’s going to fit in well as a left handed bat in our lineup.”

The Outlaws finish the season on the road. Joplin faces Jefferson City tonight and Friday and wrap up the regular season against Sedalia on Saturday.