PARK HILLS – After waiting nearly a half-century, the Mineral Area baseball team will finally need room among a collection of championship placards displayed at Bob Sechrest Fieldhouse.
The Cardinals claimed the first MCCAC title in program history after sweeping a doubleheader against Three Rivers behind stellar pitching on Saturday.
Former closer Aaron Evers allowed one unearned run and scattered six hits while striking out seven over seven innings, and Mineral Area prevailed 2-1 in the four-game series finale.
Nate Bandy drove in both runs in the first and seventh frames, and Luke Marcum finished 2-for-3 plus a walk. Ben Jones tripled and scored to ignite the initial rally.
Jackson Truesdell pitched a clean eighth inning in relief of Evers (4-1), and Martijn Schnooderwoerd worked an equally smooth ninth with one strikeout for his first save.
Dillon Thomas, Dee Triplett, Brett Gonzalez and Ryan LaPlante singled for the Cardinals (29-11, 17-11), whose defense turned two double plays.
Three Rivers (20-25, 8-20) opted for a committee of four pitchers with Briar Fischer taking the loss. Sean Pruneau threw the first 2 2/3 innings, allowing one run and fanning three.
Cade Cancilla and Andrew Lara had two hits each for the Raiders, who dropped 3-of-4 in the series.
Pierce Hartman (5-0) was the catalyst on the mound during the previous game on Saturday, dealing a five-hit shutout over seven innings with seven strikeouts.
Jones homered while going 2-for-4 overall, and Brice Stultz ripped a two-run shot in the fourth inning as the Cardinals triumphed 5-0.
Adam Renneberg was 2-for-3 overall while Thomas doubled in the win. Triplett and Bandy added RBI singles, and Rafael Garcia netted a hit and walk.
Mason Morgan allowed three runs on three hits over 3 1/3 innings in defeat for Three Rivers.
The Raiders opened the series Friday by rallying with four unanswered runs for a 7-5 victory, getting home runs from Lane Baremore, Cancilla and Hunter Gray.
Baremore and Gray each finished 3-for-4, and Three Rivers scored three times in the sixth inning after Mineral Area had grabbed a 5-3 edge in the fifth.
Connor Hicks crushed his team-leading 16th home run, and Jones belted a solo shot while going 2-for-3 with a stolen base and two runs scored for MAC. Bandy doubled, Triplett added a two-run single, and Thomas and Marcum chipped in one hit apiece.
Neither starter factored into the decision. Nathan Landry compiled nine strikeouts and allowed three runs on six hits plus three walks for the Cardinals. Chad Donze allowed five runs over 4 1/3 innings for the Raiders.
Michael White obtained four outs for the win, and Austin Brock struck out the side in the seventh to secure the save.
Kaleb Richards yielded three earned runs on seven hits over two innings in the loss.
Hicks launched home run No. 17 on the spring, Bandy and Thomas also went deep, and Mineral Area earned a doubleheader split Friday with a 13-5 victory.
The Raiders scored five times in the fourth inning to lead 5-4, but the Cardinals countered with four runs in the home half before notching five more in the fifth.
Russell Derbyshire overcame one rough frame, and went the distance on the mound for the win. He gave up five runs on 12 hits and struck out seven.
Mineral Area totaled 11 hits. Hicks was 2-for-2 overall with a sacrifice fly and four RBI, and Bandy likewise finished 2-for-2 with four runs scored, a double and two RBI.
Triplett added three RBI on two singles, and Garcia supplied two hits. Jones reached base four times on a single and three walks while Stultz had one hit.
Mason Libla lifted a two-run home run while Kolten Poorman, Cancilla and Kyle Clayton had two hits each for Three Rivers. Reliever Joseph Ranford surrendered six runs over two innings in the loss.
Mineral Area will host a best-of-three qualifying series for the Region 16 tournament starting on Friday.