JOPLIN, Mo. – Three victories during a four-game series against Jefferson in April were crucial in helping the Mineral Area baseball program capture its second straight MCCAC championship.
The rival Vikings gained their revenge during the double-elimination Region 16 tournament by dealing the Cardinals two losses in back-to-back nights.
Center fielder and leadoff man Payton Howard went 3-for-3 with a sacrifice fly plus a sliding catch on defense as Jefferson prevailed 5-2 on Friday evening at Joe Becker Stadium.
Alex Logusch inherited the bases loaded with one out in the ninth inning, but induced a game-ending double play from Justin Carinci on his only pitch for the save.
Carinci scorched the first offering of the eighth for a line-drive home run against reliever Jared Hughes, who issued consecutive walks to put the potential tying runs aboard.
Matt Schark, Josh Gibson and Joe Hamilton added two hits each for Jefferson (32-23), which topped Crowder 12-11 on Saturday before losing the winner-take-all rematch 7-1.
Mineral Area (31-18) batted into three double plays, and totaled six hits in defeat. Shortstop Rafael Garcia paced the offense at 2-for-3 with a double.
Derek Williams crushed his school-record 25th and final home run of the season to create a 1-1 tie against Vikings starter Jordan Duncan in the sixth.
Mineral Area pitcher Russell Derbyshire settled into a dominant groove at one juncture by striking out five consecutive batters on a variety of deliveries and locations.
The tall right-hander fanned six overall while walking none over seven-plus innings, but was charged with four earned runs on 10 hits.
Jefferson began to solve Derbyshire with five consecutive singles through the left side of the infield in the bottom of the sixth. RBI hits by Schark and Matt Albriton restored a 3-1 lead.
Garcia and Carinci broke the string by turning a double play for MAC. But Howard added an RBI single with two outs in the seventh, and Hamilton crossed the plate on a wild pitch in the eighth.
Duncan allowed one run on three hits while striking out three for the win. Howard put the Vikings ahead 1-0 on a deep enough fly ball following an error in the second.
Kaleb Lemos got around runners at second and third with one out in the eighth, but the Cardinals ended their 56th season of existence still seeking a first region title.
Jose Ramirez and Antoine Tremblay singled for Mineral Area, which fell to Jefferson 8-4 on Thursday and rallied to eliminate St. Charles 4-3 in a noon start on Friday.