PARK HILLS – The Mineral Area College Cardinals played the last three games of their four-game home stand against Crowder on Saturday and Sunday on their own home field. Saturday's doubleheader resulted in two more losses for the Cardinals after losing the opener to the Roughriders on Friday at Wilson Rozier Park, but on Sunday, the resilient Cardinals were unwilling to be swept as they battled back to win the final game 10-7.
Holding a 6-1 lead going into the top of the sixth inning, the Cardinals saw their hopes of salvaging at least one win of the series placed in jeopardy as the Roughriders (32-10 and currently ranked 13th in the nation) put up a six-spot to take a one-run lead.
The Cardinals did not buckle under as Dakota Glore and Hunter Leeper hit back-to back doubles to lead off the seventh for Mineral Area to tie up the score. Charlie Palmer bunted Leeper over to third to set up the go-ahead run. Cody Heisserer came through with a double to score Leeper along with pinch-runner Christian Montes all the way from first base. Cory Lubinski drove in Heisserer with a single for the final run and pitcher Justin Murphy silenced the Roughriders over the last two innings for the win.
The Cardinals powered up to score their first six runs. Brad Cuyos hit a two run home run in the fourth inning, and three straight singles by Connor Davault, Logan Bradley and Glore in the fifth led to a grand slam by Leeper.
On Saturday the Cardinals hung with the Roughriders for all but one inning in the first game before falling 9-6, but in the second game, Crowder took command from the start to post a 7-2 win.
The two teams were deadlocked at 4-4 after six innings in the first game, before the highly potent offense of the Roughriders rallied for five hits and five runs in the top of the seventh. The Cardinals were able to score two in their last at-bats, and even bring the tying run to the plate, but they were unable to produce any more as a fly ball to short would end their chances.
The Cardinals (20-20) bounced back from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the third to take their only lead in the game. Back to back singles by Jake Cowan and Lubinski started the inning and Glore tattooed the leftfield line for a double. The throw to the plate was not in time to catch the speedy Lubinski, but it allowed Glore to advance to third on the play. Leeper drove Glore home with a single to give the Cardinals a 3-2 edge.
Garrett Mays legged out an infield hit to start the fourth for Crowder, and after a couple of free passes were issued to load the bases, Mays was able to score on a passed ball to knot up the score again.
Crowder regained the lead in the top of the fifth after a lead-off double by Chris Scroggins resulted in his eventually scoring on a ground ball by Sam Hilliard. The Cardinals were able to get out of the inning with a double play.
Mineral Area took advantage of two walks to start the bottom of the fifth with Bradley moving the runners over via a sacrifice bunt. A sacrifice fly to center by Glore tied the game up for a third time. Both pitchers sailed through the sixth to set up the seventh inning drama.
Ryan Lazo got the Roughriders started in the seventh with a lead-off bunt single. Casey Vaughan, Hilliard and Jordan Dey had RBI singles in the inning, and Blake Wilfong drove in two with his single.
Davault hit a one-out double in the seventh, and Leeper and Glore followed with singles, but the Cardinals left runners at the corners as the last out was recorded.
In Saturday’s second game, the Roughriders first three batters scored to start the game which was all pitcher Brett Price needed as he spread out seven hits by the Cardinals’ batters to give up only one run each in the third and seventh innings.
Davault drove in Heisserer from third with a ground-out for the first run. Cuyos led off the seventh with a double for the first of four straight hits by the Cardinals that produced the only run in the seventh. Glore hit a double in the sixth and Cowan was the only multi-hitter for the Cardinals with two singles in the game.
Mineral Area's next contest is on Thursday at Jefferson College.