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PARK HILLS – Sophomore Liam Hicks smashed his seventh home run to continue a prolific start to the season, and Caleb Feuerstake highlighted another strong day at the plate with his fifth.

But the Mineral Area baseball team was unable to keep pace with visiting St. Charles in a doubleheader to begin Region 16 baseball action on Saturday, as the Cougars prevailed 6-2 and 7-5.

Ryan Brink pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts to win game one. Josh Cook collected three hits, and Eric Rothermich drove in three.

Mineral Area grabbed a quick 2-0 lead when Hicks parked a two-run shot over the fence, but generated no further scoring output over the next six frames.

Cardinals starter Ryan Paschal (2-1) lasted the first 4 2/3 innings in defeat, allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out three.

Matt McGilvray fanned five and surrendered one run while obtaining the last seven outs in relief. The MAC defense turned two double plays.

St. Charles grabbed a 3-2 lead in the top of the third inning, and picked up two tallies in the fifth.

Feuerstake finished 2-for-2 with a double while reaching base three times for Mineral Area. Jake Pryor and Riley Perks contributed singles.

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The Cardinals surged ahead 5-4 in game two following a three-run rally during the bottom of the fifth, but the Cougars responded with three in the seventh against reliever David Webb (0-1).

Manny Garcia totaled three hits at the plate while hurlers Alec Kubik and Carter Bauer combined to strike out nine to help complete the sweep.

Feuerstake was 3-for-4 overall with a double and solo home run in the third inning to pace Mineral Area, which had entered the day unbeaten.

Noah Niswonger finished 2-for-2 with an RBI, and Perks provided a single, double and two stolen bases. Hicks reached base three times and scored two runs.

Pryor sparked the Cardinals (9-2, 0-2) with a two-RBI single in the fifth inning, and Anyelo Marte added another of his team’s 10 hits.

Spencer Burnham recorded no decision after pitching 4 1/3 innings with three earned runs allowed on eight hits. He compiled five strikeouts.

Parker Stidham was the second reliever utilized by MAC, and fanned three of his nine batters faced after entering with one out in the seventh. Blakeney Kearbey threw a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts.

Mineral Area is scheduled to host the Williams Baptist junior varsity on Tuesday before welcoming State Fair for a four-game Region 16 series starting on Friday.

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