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MAC splits two with Meramec, finishes second in conference

ST. LOUIS – The Mineral Area College baseball entered Tuesday’s double-header at Meramec still in contention for a share of the first-ever MCCAC conference championship in school history. The Cardinals had to win both games against the Magic while hoping for a split between Jefferson College and Forest Park in Hillsboro to be part of a three-way tie, but it was not to be.

Mineral Area provided plenty of offensive support behind a superb pitching effort from freshman Michael Hardin for a 7-0 win in game one, but Meramec rebounded for an 8-5 triumph in game two. Meanwhile, Jefferson swept Forest Park in two contests to win the conference outright.

Hardin was in control from the beginning in the opener, striking out eight batters while allowing only one hit and three walks in the complete game for his team-leading sixth victory of the season.

MAC took the lead with four runs in the fourth inning against pitcher Adam Howard. Ryan Becker doubled and scored the first tally on a RBI single by Tyler Stahl. Marty Clements doubled to put two runners in scoring position, and Scott Hubbard delivered a big two-run double to make it 3-0. The last run of the inning scored on a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Hoffman.

A pair of walks helped the Cardinals added three insurance runs in the seventh. Kenny Pikula ripped a RBI double for his second hit of the day before Hubbard added a two-run single to finish the game 2-for-3 with four RBI.

Game two saw the teams trade the lead throughout the early innings, but after the Cardinals battled back to tie the game in the top of the fourth, the Magic regained the lead with three runs in the bottom half to earn the double-header split.

Brandon Crook gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in the second inning with a RBI hit after Lucas Hulsey drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, but Meramec scored three times in the bottom of the frame to grab a two-run lead.

A RBI hit by Pikula trimmed the margin to one run in the third, but the Magic matched that run to build a 5-3 advantage. Pikula had two hits in the game, including a double.

Hoffman, who also had two hits in the game, made Meramec pay for a walk and a hit batsman in the fourth with a two-run single to even the score at 5-5, but the Cardinals could not create much offense down the stretch.

Jeff Scott suffered the loss in relief after taking over in the third inning for MAC. Scott struck out five and allowed three runs on six hits over four innings. Starter Drew Horrell took a no-decision after struggling through two innings with five runs given up on six hits.

Mineral Area (24-23) will travel to Neosho on Friday for their final two regular-season games against Crowder.

Mineral Area 000 400 3 – 7

Meramec 000 000 0 – 0

Mineral Area:

Hitting – Hubbard 2, Pikula 2, Dickerman, Becker, Stahl, Clements, Hall. 2b – Hubbard 2, Clements, Becker.

Pitching – Hardin (W) 7i 0r 1h 8k 3bb.

Mineral Area 021 200 0 – 8

Meramec 131 300 x – 5

Mineral Area:

Hitting – Hoffman 2, Pikula 2, Crook. 2b – Pikula.

Pitching – Horrell 2i 5r 4er 6h 0k 2bb, Scott (L) 4i 3r 6h 5k 1bb.

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