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MAC Cardinals level series with Three Rivers

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. — Mineral Area progressed through Sunday with a short memory after dropping two home games to Three Rivers earlier in the weekend.

The Cardinals tallied two pivotal runs in the sixth inning, and edged the host Raiders 6-5 in the first game of a doubleheader and third contest of a Region 16 series.

The decisive rally included three consecutive 2-out hits, including RBI singles by Hunter Leeper and Charlie Palmer after Connor Davault and Dakota Glore reached base.

Jordan Savage pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings for the win after Three Rivers collected five runs off starter Andrew Suiter. MAC posted a 12-4 edge in hits.

Dakota Glore set the tone for a perfect day at the plate by going 3-for-3. Hunter Leeper finished 3-for-4 and Connor Davault added two singles with three runs scored.

The MAC offense returned to its explosive form in the series finale later on Sunday, cranking out 16 hits Sunday for an 11-4 victory and even series split.

Leeper belted a grand slam in the sixth inning, and Brad Cuyos launched his seventh homer of the spring while adding a double.

The Cardinals trailed 4-1 before rallying for 10 unanswered runs. Tyler Thompson netted five strikeouts and threw six scoreless innings of relief for the win.

Glore finished 4-for-4 with a triple and Davault went 4-for-5 with two doubles from the lead-off spot. Cory Lubinski was 2-for-3 and Jake Cowan had a double.

Mineral Area (19-17) will host a 4-game series with Crowder starting on Friday.

Saturday’s Games

PARK HILLS — The offense was absent in the opening contest. Then the pitching staff could not hold a 3-run lead.

The Mineral Area baseball team endured a frustrating doubleheader on Saturday as its struggles in Region 16 play continued.

Game 1 featured an outstanding performance on the mound from left-hander Dylan Slayton, whose 2-hitter and six strikeouts propelled the Raiders to a 5-0 victory.

Jake Nickelson and Dylan Witthoft had two singles each, and Three Rivers increased a 1-0 lead with four runs in the sixth inning.

The Cardinals were shut out for the third time this season as the Three Rivers defense made solid plays to retire batters on line drives and challenging ground balls.

Slayton allowed 1-out singles to Logan Bradley in the first inning and Hunter Leeper in the fourth. He overcame two walks by fanning side in the seventh.

MAC starter Jalen Miller (1-2) lasted 5 1/3 inning in defeat, pitching around some early walks to avert damage until the fourth.

Catcher Brad Cuyos caught Nickelson in a rundown between third and home for the second out, but Kelvin Flores followed with an RBI single.

Jake Moore induced an infield fly after inheriting a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, but lead-off Jared Pruett saw an opportunity to utilize his speed.

A bunt single rested perfectly on the third-base line, and Kevin Rosario ripped a 2-run single for insurance after a passed ball made it 3-0.

The Cardinals looked to rebound in game 2, and chased opposing starter Matt Ulrich by the fourth inning.

Three Rivers countered with crucial 2-out hits to mount a comeback, and used an RBI double from Alec Pender in the ninth to steal a 9-8 triumph.

Catcher Alex Heuring highlighted his 4-for-4 effort with a towering 2-run homer off Justin Murphy that forged a 6-6 tie in the fifth.

Santos Duran and Rosario each added three hits as the Raiders totaled 15 overall. Cole Boardman threw two scoreless innings of relief for the win.

Bradley scored three runs and matched Dakota Glore by going 3-for-4 to pace Mineral Area, which jumped ahead 2-0 on Hunter Leeper’s RBI single in the opening frame.

The Cardinals regained a 4-3 lead on an infield hit by Cory Lubinski after Cuyos drew a bases-loaded walk in the third inning. A possible lead-off hit was erased on a close call to start the fourth, but MAC still tacked on two runs.

Leeper nearly hit a grand slam that landed at the base of the right-field fence. The play turned into an RBI fielder’s choice when a throw beat Glore to second base.

Three Rivers countered its 6-3 deficit with five straight tallies. Tito Ovalle scored from third base on a throwing error, and Pender added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Reliever Jamie Middleton slowed the Mineral Area offense before starting the eighth with two walks and a hit batsman.

The Cardinals pulled even on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Bradley and Glore, but Boardman was able to limit the damage from there.

Each team started its half of the ninth with a single, but only Three Rivers capitalized when Pender doubled home Dylan Witthoft against Mauricio Junco (0-3).

Heuring capped his strong game by throwing out MAC runner Charlie Palmer, who attempted to advance on a pitch in the dirt.

Mineral Area third baseman Logan Bradley applies the tag on Three Rivers runner Jake Nickelson (35) during a rundown.

Mineral Area third baseman Logan Bradley applies the tag on Three Rivers runner Jake Nickelson (35) during a rundown.

MAC batter Brad Cuyos slides into second base with a double Saturday against Three Rivers.

MAC batter Brad Cuyos slides into second base with a double Saturday against Three Rivers.

MAC shortstop Hunter Leeper fields a ground ball to retire a Three Rivers batter on Saturday.

MAC shortstop Hunter Leeper fields a ground ball to retire a Three Rivers batter on Saturday.

Mineral Area sophomore Tanner Ward hits a fly ball in game 1 Saturday against Three Rivers.

Mineral Area sophomore Tanner Ward hits a fly ball in game 1 Saturday against Three Rivers.

Matt King is a sports reporter for the Daily Journal. Contact him at mking@dailyjournalonine.com?

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