The Crowder Roughriders had to work hard to reach the 40-win mark, which they accomplished on Saturday by sweeping a Region 16 doubleheader against Three Rivers Community College 10-0 and 9-1 at Roughrider Field.
Not only have the Roughriders (40-10, 23-3 Region 16) worked hard over the course of the season and had that hard work pay off in the win-loss department, but they also worked hard on Friday and Saturday just to even play Saturday’s games.
With family and friends in town from all over the country to help celebrate Sophomore Day, the Roughriders turned their determination to play into results, just as they have all season. They somehow worked the playing surface into playing condition and then went to work.
After honoring the sophomore class in a pre-game ceremony, the Roughriders were all business once they stepped between the white lines.
“We talked about that after the games,” Roughriders coach Travis Lallemand said. “Getting to 40 wins was a goal we had this season.”
Game-one starting pitcher Preston Tarkington brought his best stuff to the mound and held the Raiders to just four hits in the 10-0 shutout.
With the game in a scoreless tie through 3.5 innings, the Roughriders went wild at the plate in the bottom of the fourth as they scored five times thanks to four doubles.
Ty White got the Roughriders on the board when he lined a 1-1 pitch into right center to score Tony Sandifer to make it 1-0. C.J. Webster later laced a two-run double to right and Lucas Feddersen followed with another double to make it 4-0 with one out.
Ryan Lazo followed Feddersen and drove him home with, go figure, another double with two outs to make it 5-0.
Crowder would add four more in the fifth and another in the sixth to end it.
Webster drove in his third and fourth runs of the game with a two-run single to left with no outs to start the rally in the fifth. Feddersen drove in another run on a grounder to second to make it 8-0. Lazo made it 9-0 when he stole third and raced home on a missed catch.
“Two solid starting performances again on the mound,” Lallemand said. “We hit the ball hard all day. We scored in bunches but we continued to swing the bats well and played pretty good defense, as well.”
Perhaps the biggest highlights of the day came at the conclusion of each game. In game one sophomore Tyler Rusk (6’5, 195 Cole Camp, Mo.), with his father looking on, crushed a pinch-hit double to score the final run as the Roughriders inflicted the mercy rule.
Rusk’s teammates mobbed him on the field.
Page 2 of 2 - The same could be said for Neosho native Jared Brown, as well. The sophomore’s two-run single to right in game two put the Roughriders up 9-1 and sent them to yet another victory.
“That was the perfect ending to both games as far as the spirit fo the day with sophomore day and those guys coming through,” Lallemand said. “You couldn’t have scripted it any better.”
Both games were well-pitched affairs.
“We woke up this morning not really knowing, and came out and worked on the field,” Tarkington said. “We got that done because we really wanted to play today. We came out kind of slow at the beginning but we finished up strong and got the offense going. Our defense also played well.”
Tarkington said, despite the game being pushed back three hours he prepared the same as he would any day he was taking the mound.
“You’ve just got to be ready,” he said. “You know you’re going to play, even if you don’t play today you’re going to play tomorrow. You’d rather be ready than not ready, you don’t want to be on your heels.
“I felt like I had a good day out there. I felt like I was able to command the zone with all four pitches, and C.J. (Webster) did a good job calling the game. He really set me up well.”
The Roughriders conclude the series with a pair of games today beginning at 1 p.m. at Roughrider Field.