JOPLIN — Three big swings of the bat and Aaron Ashby’s dominating pitching performance earned Crowder a 10-1 win Friday afternoon in the elimination game of the Region 16 tournament at historic Joe Becker Stadium.
Kobe Morris’ grand slam in the second inning sparked the Crowder offense and fellow sophomore Tyler Duncan put together a monster day at the plate with four hits, two homers, and six RBI.
On the mound, Ashby allowed one run (earned) on five hits over eight innings and he struck out 17 and walked three.
“We needed a run-rule,” Crowder head coach Travis Lallemand said, “whether it was cutting out three outs, six outs or nine outs. We needed to save pitching.
“He (Ashby) was as dominant as he’s ever been. I didn’t even realize 17 strikeouts, but really impressive. He kept his composure. There were a couple situations early there that could have got away from him and he located on three breaking balls. Mineral Area’s a good offensive team and we knew this was going to be a tough matchup. A lot of people were wondering who we were going to throw and there was no question in my mind who we had to throw with our season on the line. I’d like to be in this game (winners’ bracket final), but we’ve got to focus on the next one. Good thing is, we get to play somebody coming off a loss.
“Tyler Duncan got going. He absolutely crushed two balls. If the top of the lineup starts going like that and if Drew Reilly starts going a little bit, we might be able to put up some runs before it’s over.”
The ‘Riders started their offense against Mineral Area starter Luis Acuna, with consecutive singles by Quinn Cherry, Colten Nix, and Cooper King loading the bases. With two outs, Morris hit the grand slam on a 0-1 pitch from Acuna.
Crowder picked up one more run in the second — Frielin Cabrera singled, stole second, and scored on a Duncan double.
With a 5-1 lead, Crowder scored two runs on a Duncan homer. Luke Price worked a leadoff walk and Duncan delivered another two-out run-scoring hit.
Crowder finished it off in the eighth — Morris hit a leadoff single, Cabrera knocked a double, and Duncan ended it with a hammer’s blow.
Crowder scored seven of its 10 runs with two outs.
Crowder improved to 44-14 overall entering their Friday night contest against State Fair, a return match from Thursday night.
Jefferson handed State Fair a 11-3 loss in the winners’ bracket final and the Vikings wait in the championship game Saturday with the advantage of needing to lose twice for somebody else to win the Region 16 title.
Region 16 Tournament
at Joe Becker Stadium, Joplin
CROWDER 10, MINERAL AREA 1 (8 innings)
Mineral Area 000 010 00 — 1 5 2
Crowder 050 002 03 — 10 15 0
Luis Acuna, Stephen Carter (4), Parker Stidham (7) and Andrew Hayden. Aaron Ashby and Denver Mullins. WP: Ashby. LP: Acuna. E: Trynt Thompkins, John Benevolent. HR: Tyler Duncan 2, Kobe Morris. 2B: Frielin Cabrera, Duncan. SB: Caleb Feuerstake 2; Cabrera, Drew Reilly, Luke Price, Quinn Cherry. HBP: Mitch Barrow. LOB: Mineral Area 7, Crowder 8.