PARK HILLS – The Mineral Area baseball team remained in position as a potential Region 16 first-round host by capturing three of four games this week against rival Three Rivers.
Liam Hicks reached base four straight times with two hits and two walks, and the Cardinals prevailed 3-2 in game one of a road doubleheader on Monday afternoon.
RBI singles from Jake Pryor and Dillon Thomas provided an immediate 2-0 lead, and Blakeney Kearbey (4-3) spread seven hits over five innings for the win while striking out two.
Caleb Feuerstake and Riley Perks notched doubles while German Sepulveda and Drew Blechle singled for the Cardinals.
Three Rivers chipped away with solo tallies in the third and fifth innings, but David Webb worked two scoreless frames out of the bullpen for his fourth save.
The second contest on Monday took a drastic turn when Mineral Area exploded for 12 runs in the ninth inning to sink the Raiders 14-9.
Feuerstake homered, singled and walked twice to collect four RBI with three runs scored. Pinch-hitter Jared Jones also highlighted the massive rally with a three-run double.
Three Rivers squandered a five-run advantage after producing seven combined runs against MAC starter Spencer Burnham and reliever Ryan Paschal.
Riley Perks added two RBI on a home run and double, and Tommy Van de Sanden compiled a team-high three hits in the victory. Anyelo Marte was 2-for-2 off the bench.
Dalton Cook chipped in two hits with two runs scored, and Thomas singled twice. Hicks had a double in six plate appearances for MAC.
Garrison Keene (1-0) allowed a run in the eighth, and picked up the win after Matt McGilvray obtained the final two outs as the Cardinals’ fifth hurler used.
Hicks belted his 12th homer of the season with a runner aboard in the first inning, and Van De Sanden connected for a two-run double to propel Mineral Area 6-5 at home on Tuesday.
Thomas and Blechle finished with two hits apiece, and the Cardinals snapped a 4-4 tie with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Cole Allen (3-0) pitched 5 1/3 innings in an early relief assignment for the win, striking out four while overcoming five hits and five walks to surrender just two runs.
Parker Stidham faced runners at the corners with one out in the seventh, but answered with a crucial strikeout to secure his second save.
Feuerstake and Pryor each had a single and run scored. MAC starter Markus Ramos faced four batters, and was pulled after yielding a three-run shot to Reece Reading.
Three Rivers avoided a series sweep with its own sudden comeback, pushed six unanswered runs across the plate to overtake the Cardinals 11-10 later on Tuesday.
Feuerstake pushed the Mineral Area lead to 10-5 with a solo home run – his 10th of the spring – in the bottom of the fifth inning. An earlier five-run outburst in the third had made it 6-4.
Perks doubled while driving in three runs and scoring twice. Van de Sanden crossed the dish three times while adding two singles for the Cardinals.
Sepulveda had a double among two hits, and produced two RBI to equal Thomas, who reached safely three times on a single and two walks.
Hicks was 2-for-5 with two runs scored, and easily leads MAC with 48 RBI and a stellar .462 average, currently good for seventh in the nation.
A committee of pitchers struggled for Mineral Area (24-14, 12-14). Starter Nick Silcox yielded four runs over 2 1/3 innings, and Stidham did likewise in his second appearance of the day.
McGilvray walked four after heading to the mound in the third, and Paschal (2-3) was saddled with the loss after allowed two runs, one earned, in the eighth.
The Cardinals will travel to Trenton, Mo. this weekend for a four-game set against North Central.