JOPLIN, Mo. – The Mineral Area baseball team simply had nothing left.
A crushing extra-inning loss to State Fair on Friday depleted the Cardinals’ pitching staff and frayed their emotions. Thirty minutes of recovery time proved far from sufficient.
Crowder pounded away at the plate with no sympathy and triumphed 15-3 to end the Mineral Area season in a Region 16 Tournament elimination game.
Quinn Cherry, Freilin Cabrera and Sam Chaput all homered for the Roughriders (45-14), who will attempt to defeat State Fair twice in the championship round Saturday.
Caleb Feuerstake doubled and scored a run, and Tommy Van de Sanden had a late RBI single for Mineral Area (32-17), which had shaken the bracket by defeating top seed Jefferson on Thursday.
Two games and less than 24 hours later, the momentum vanished, along with any hope of finally breaking a longstanding drought without a region banner.
Ryan Paschal returned to mound after closing out the earlier loss, but was pulled after one inning. The Roughriders jumped ahead 4-0 after Rod Criss ripped a two-RBI double.
Matt McGilvray allowed four more tallies and six total hits after five straight batters reached safely in the second, including a two-run blast by Cabrera.
Crowder further broke it open with seven runs in the third after leading 8-2. Chaput belted a three-run shot to right-center as Zach McDermott allowed all four of his batters to reach.
Cherry connected three batters later with the longest drive of the contest against Nick Silcox after Colten Nix singled and scored on a wild pitch.
Garrison Keene threw two scoreless innings, and David Hensley retired the only two men he faced as the sixth hurler utilized by the Cardinals.
Tanner Norris pitched all five innings, and struck out six while allowed four hits in the win. Cabrera and Chaput each collected three hits, and Cameron Tissue scored three runs for the Roughriders.
Riley Perks had an RBI ground out in the opening frame for MAC, and made a leaping catch at the left-field wall to rob Criss in the third.
Standout catcher Liam Hicks matched Kurt Dawkins by going 1-for-1 plus a walk, and punctuated his sophomore season with a .443 batting average.
State Fair 11, Mineral Area 10
JOPLIN, Mo. – Mineral Area was three outs away from reaching the championship round of the Region 16 Tournament, but a two-run lead evaporated as quickly as it developed.
Jake Lufft singled home Brice Pannier in the bottom of the 13th inning, and State Fair prevailed 11-10 in an exhausting battle that saw each team expend four pitchers.
Hayden Bradford stroked a tying two-run single in the 11th to prolong the game, and Kyle Clark finished 3-for-7 to pace the Roadrunners (35-19).
Mineral Area stood at the precipice of just the third region final in program history while riding the wave of an enormous triumph over top seed Jefferson one night earlier.
The Cardinals (32-16) found a two-out spark in the 11th when leadoff man Caleb Feuerstake doubled, and regained a 10-8 lead on a two-run single by Riley Perks after Liam Hicks was intentionally walked.
Spencer Burnham had allowed no runs since relieving in the sixth, and escaped a bases-loaded situation by retiring Blake Ford on a fly ball to Feuerstake in the bottom of the 10th.
But he opened the 11th by issuing consecutive walks to Brady Holden and Pannier – his fifth and sixth free passes of the outing – and Bradford delivered in the clutch against Ryan Paschal.
Brady Rentel pitched two perfect innings with two strikeouts to earn the win. Previous reliever Jack Schmedding worked 6 2/3 innings and gave five runs.
State Fair will face Crowder on Saturday, seeking its first Region 16 title in just three years of existence as a program.
Perks went 3-for-6 with four RBI, including a tying two-run double as MAC scored four times in the fifth. Jake Pryor followed with a go-ahead double, and Dillon Thomas made it 5-3 with an RBI single.
Cardinals starter Cole Allen dealt with some shin discomfort, and lasted only two innings after throwing a masterful complete game during his previous start against St. Louis.
Parker Stidham rolled through his first three frames without surrendering a hit, but four consecutive men got aboard to begin the bottom of the sixth.
Brett Holden singled in Brady Holden and Ford to even the score, and Lufft hammered a deep three-run homer two batters later that catapulted State Fair ahead 8-5.
The Cardinals fought back immediately. Liam Hicks highlighted a 2-for-3 showing with his 14th home run of the spring, and Thomas added a towering two-run blast to make it 8-8 after Pryor singled.
Feuerstake was 3-for-6 with two runs scored, and Pryor was 2-for-5. But five players combined for a meager 0-for-17 performance from the bottom three spots in the Mineral Area order.
The Cardinals had a single from Perks erased by a double play in the eighth, and Tommy Van de Sanden was caught stealing in the top of the ninth.
Brady Holden singled against Paschal to trigger the winning rally, and crossed the plate on four of the six occasions he reached base in seven chances.
Mineral Area 7, Jefferson 4
JOPLIN, Mo. – Caleb Feuerstake enhanced an early Mineral Area lead with one powerful swing, and David Webb protected it with another clutch relief appearance.
The Cardinals halted the 29-game win streak of top seed Jefferson after dropping eight previous head-to-head meetings in a row, and advanced 7-4 in the Region 16 tournament on Thursday night.
Blakeney Kearbey threw six quality innings to win his fifth consecutive start for fourth-seeded Mineral Area (32-15).
Three defensive errors each proved costly for Jefferson (41-15), which trailed 5-0 after the Cardinals produced four runs in the fourth inning off starter Riley Boyd.
Tommy Van de Sanden walked and Jared Jones singled ahead of a throwing miscue at first base that made it 2-0 with one out.
Feuerstake followed with a long three-run home run to right field – his 11th of the season – and was 2-for-4 with three runs scored.
Kearbey (7-3) was hindered by seven walks, but delivered eight big strikeouts while allowing only three hits. Jarrett Newell connected for a two-run double against him in the bottom of the fourth.
A one-out double from Brad Willis was squandered when Kearbey closed the sixth with back-to-back strikeouts, but the Vikings threatened again in the seventh.
Matt Turino brought Jefferson to within 5-3 with an RBI double, prompting a change on the mound. Webb kept the margin right there by fanning the next three batters.
Devyn Terbrak calmed the Mineral Area lineup through five innings of relief, striking out five, but was tagged for two unearned runs when Feuerstake and Liam Hicks scored on errors in the ninth.
Webb surrendered a two-out RBI single to Nick Hagedorn, but overpowered Dalton Doyle for his sixth and final strikeout to secure his sixth save.
Left fielder Riley Perks drifted to the fence to catch one fly ball in the bottom of the ninth, then raced forward for a running grab and the second out.
Dillon Thomas notched and double and single, and Van de Sanden reached base four times with a stolen base to support the victory.
Mineral Area moved ahead 1-0 when Feuerstake walked and scored on a wild pitch and ball four that put Jake Pryor aboard in the third inning.