PARK HILLS — The Mineral Area baseball team has faced its most difficult competition over the final three weeks of the regular season.
Wabash Valley validated its national ranking with victories of 10-2 and 4-1 on Tuesday, sending the Cardinals to their 12th loss in 13 games.
Mineral Area (30-21) skipped right-hander Jeff King in the rotation and also rested three regular starters. But their replacements provided a bulk of the offense during the home doubleheader.
The visiting Warriors slugged 12 hits and tallied nine runs off starter Wayde Roth in game one. Left fielder Tim Berry homered and doubled while going 3-for-4 overall with three RBI.
Rey Perez went 2-for-2 while scoring three times, and Wabash Valley (39-12) received two hits from Edgar Figueroa and Manuel DeJesus.
Mineral Area opened with three consecutive hits from Brad Matson, Brad Ridings and Hunter Leeper t against Danny Heim, who worked six innings and struck out four in the win.
Austin Harris added an RBI single in the MAC fifth. Wabash Valley turned two double plays to thwart other potential rallies.
Conor Dishman belted a 2-run shot against Roth as the Warriors scored four times in the fifth to establish a 9-2 advantage.
Jalen Miller and Tylor McNeil powered the Cardinals during game two with two hits apiece, but the host squad only converted one scoring chance as winning hurler Ryan Quintero fanned six while going the distance.
Dishman finished 3-for-4 to pace the Warriors, who netted two runs over four innings against Cardinals starter Corban Taylor.
RBI singles from Perez and Dishman extended the Wabash Valley lead to 4-0 off reliever Alex Piontek in the fifth.
Harris ended a possible shutout with an RBI single in the sixth, but MAC stranded two runners in the seventh.
Mineral Area hosts the Region 16 tournament beginning next Wednesday, and will draw the No. 4 seed if Maple Woods can win two of four games this weekend against Three Rivers.