JOPLIN — After a five-game week in which the Crowder Roughriders outscored their opponents 82-9 in all run-rule victories, Crowder head coach Travis Lallemand said the No. 11 Roughriders needed a game like Tuesday night’s 8-5 loss to the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Norsemen at historic Joe Becker Stadium.
Not that, Lallemand said, losing’s ever acceptable, of course.
“I thought it was a really good game,” Lallemand said, “especially late. Some bullpen guys stepped up on both sides. It’s a great opportunity for us to look at this after all the run-rule games we’ve been playing and to understand what we have to do in these situations. We didn’t execute well tonight, had some miscues, and turned over the lineup for them.”
Crowder dropped to 35-10 overall on the season, while NEO improved to 22-17. The ‘Riders return to Region 16 action Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting, at home against St. Charles and Crowder brings a 20-3 mark that’s good for first place in Region 16.
On the season, Crowder’s only lost back-to-back games once — against No. 12 Iowa Western — and the ‘Riders had rattled off wins in eight of their previous nine games following a 11-1 loss to Mineral Area in their last game at Joe Becker.
So watch out, St. Charles.
“That’s one thing with this group,” Lallemand said. “Our attention’s gotten after losses. We went out this weekend and scored 60-some runs (66). Credit our offense for doing that, but at the same time, to see those (bullpen) guys get that opportunity (face runners in scoring position), sure I would like to win, but I’ll trade the opportunity and the loss now for what I get to learn for May.”
The ‘Riders know it’s very likely they will be returning to Joe Becker in May playing in the Region 16 tournament. The ‘Riders are the defending tournament champions, which they won at Joe Becker.
Leadoff man Kobe Morris has missed the last five games due to injury and the ‘Riders are expecting him back soon, before they make their run at a return to the JUCO World Series.
On Tuesday, Crowder starter Colten Weber struggled with his walks — just like that previous outing against Mineral Area at Joe Becker — and NEO shortstop Erasmo Mavarez (the No. 9 hitter in the NEO lineup) hit a pair of home runs in the first three innings.
The Norse added three key insurance runs in the seventh and eighth to build on what had been a 5-4 lead for three innings.
“The miscues early,” Lallemand said. “We didn’t get out of the gates well early on the mound. We walked some guys and handed them a few. They didn’t have a big inning on the board. We did a good job of limiting them the big inning, but at the same time, it’s that Chinese water torture, just peck, peck, and peck and you give up two, one, two then you’re chasing them all game long.”
Former Carthage standout and NEO sophomore Matthew Patton hit a two-run homer in the seventh.
Two other former area high school standouts struggled for NEO on Tuesday — former Neosho stalwart Colton Marion and former Webb City star Calem Nutting went a combined 0 for 10 with two strikeouts each. However, at the end of the day, NEO won the game.
Crowder scored three runs in the first inning, then only managed a run in the second and its final run in the seventh on a Brinson Williams solo home run. Lallemand said that he knew it was an off night for the Crowder offense when players often failed to take advantage of plus-counts.
Caleb Rogge earned the win, allowing four runs (all earned) on six hits over five innings. Jared Demmel allowed one run (earned) on one hit over his four innings of relief. The Norse proved sharper defensively than Crowder, with no errors compared to four for the ‘Riders.
Meanwhile, Crowder picked up relief efforts from Chase Kyzer, Adam Scoggins, Jack Jumper (who committed to Arkansas State, where he will join current Crowder teammate Zach Jackson), and Tyler Gregg. Kyzer pitched three innings, Scoggins and Jumper each logged 1 1/3, and Gregg came on for the final out; Kyzer, Scoggins, and Jumper combined for nine strikeouts and one walk.
Lallemand mentioned Tuesday’s game providing an opportunity for bullpen work.
Jumper had last pitched April 8 (six games before) against Three Rivers, Scoggins April 10 in the 16-1 win over Fort Scott, and Kyzer on April 3 against Neosho County.
NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA A&M 8, CROWDER 5
NEO 212 000 210 — 8 10 0
Crowder 310 000 100 — 5 7 4
Caleb Rogge, Jared Demmel (6) and Tyler Silva, Dylan Taylor. Colten Weber, Chase Kyzer (4), Adam Scoggins (7), Jack Jumper (8), Tyler Gregg (9) and Denver Mullins. WP: Rogge. LP: Weber. SV: Demmel. E: Frielin Cabrera 2, Quinn Cherry, Mullins. HR: Erasmo Mavarez 2, Matthew Patton; Brinson Williams. 2B: Colten Nix, Cherry. SF: Tyler Duncan, Nix. SB: Patton, James Avery; Cabrera, Drew Reilly. CS: Carter Nelson. LOB: NEO 10, Crowder 7.