JOPLIN — A pallid mood hung over at least half of Joe Becker Stadium on Saturday when No. 11-ranked Crowder and Mineral Area closed out their four-game Region 16 series.
A day after receiving a pair of 17-run beatings from the Roughriders, the Cardinals returned some of the favor with a 11-1 five-inning run-rule victory over Crowder.
Nine-inning games are normally over in close to three hours, but not Saturday as both teams had probably left Joe Becker in right around 90 minutes.
The late, great Yogi Berra said that “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.”
The mental part was not there for Crowder seemingly from the first pitch Saturday, and that’s what upset Crowder head coach Travis Lallemand the most.
“We didn’t show up with a very good intent or approach today,” he said. “Our body language was bad. The zone was a little bit lower today, but it was both ways and our reactions to some of the pitches … Any time I ever see that from our guys, it usually spells trouble for us and it was today. Any time you don’t get a quality start, you’re going to have to pick yourself up in the first nine outs of the game offensively and we had one swing of the bat (from) Nix, who was unconscious this weekend. Didn’t put anything together. I thought when Coop (Cooper King) had the two-strike at-bat and shot the basehit through the middle, I thought maybe we’d get going.
“It’s an offensive day. Wind blowing out and we’ve got one of the more prolific offenses in the country, and we just didn’t show up to compete. The way we showed up today … we won the first three games of the series and I thought we were a little bit timid and satisfied today instead of being hungry to go get the sweep and really separate ourselves in the lead.”
Crowder moved to 27-8 overall and 14-2 Region 16 on the season, and the ‘Riders return to action, weather permitting, Tuesday at home against Neosho County. In their first meeting this season, Neosho County defeated Crowder 11-0.
Mineral Area, who scored nine runs in a series-opening one-run loss, definitely brought its bats Saturday and feasted all over six walks — including five by starter Colten Weber — and one error. The Cardinals plated six runs in the second and four in the fourth, and connected on three home runs and three more doubles, making 75 percent of their eight hits good for extra bases.
“We flipped the rotation this weekend and didn’t start (Ross) Carver,” Lallemand said. “Obviously, we’ll go back to him next weekend, but trying to get some guys some opportunities to where we can get to May that we have a variety of options if we end up getting nicked in a game and we have to come back through the losers’ bracket.
“The double play ball set the tone for that inning (second) but again, we’ve got to be more gritty to fight our way out of that situation. Sometimes that stuff happens and I told them that right back here on this field in May, you might be playing that team (Mineral Area) and there will be a heckuva lot more on the line when you play them. At least we know now that they showed up and popped us in the mouth a little bit. Maybe it’s that wake-up call that you need so you don’t take anything lightly.”
Twenty four hours after scoring 34 runs and generating 37 hits in a doubleheader sweep, Crowder produced one run on three hits Saturday against Mineral Area starter Kollin Stone, a transfer from Arkansas State (Stone’s a native of Jonesboro, Arkansas, home of the Red Wolves).
Nix’s solo home run counted for the only blemish against Stone.
Lallemand mentioned Nix — who hits in the No. 8 spot in the Crowder order — being unconscious this weekend and the numbers over the four-game series definitely bear that statement out.
Nix went 9 for 10 (.900) at the plate with nine runs scored, one double, one triple, two home runs, and eight RBI.
Frielin Cabrera and Cooper King had the other Crowder hits Saturday, both singles.
MINERAL AREA 11, CROWDER 1 (5 innings)
Crowder 001 00 — 1 3 1
Mineral Area 160 4X — 11 8 0
Colten Weber, Ross Carver (3) and Samuel Chaput. Kollin Stone and Andrew Hayden. WP: Stone. LP: Weber. E: Cooper King. HR: Colten Nix; Mitch Barrow, Trent Pobst, Liam Hicks. 2B: Trynt Tompkins, Barrow, Caleb Feuerstake. HBP: Nix; Hayden. LOB: Crowder 2, Mineral Area 4.