JOPLIN — The No. 16-ranked Crowder Roughriders ended the regular season on a strong note with a sweep Friday of Fort Scott (Kansas) at historic Joe Becker Stadium, 2-1 in eight innings and 6-4.
Crowder enters postseason play 41-13 overall and the ‘Riders closed out the regular season with four straight victories, three of them played at Joe Becker.
The ‘Riders have won at least 40 games in nine of the last 10 seasons — 2015 the only exception with 28 victories — and head coach Travis Lallemand reached 569 career victories at Crowder after Friday’s sweep.
Lallemand said that Crowder’s sub-Region 16 tournament opponent remains to be determined until early this week.
“We call it 40-win Friday,” Lallemand said. “We hit the 40-win mark and then got to 41 with that game. This group, with the weather, the injuries, and all the things that we’ve seen, to be 41-13, that’s a remarkable job of battling and doing all the things they’ve done. It’s a testament to their character and the culture of the program. A lot of people probably would have turned it in, especially a couple months ago when you lose your No. 1-2-3 arms. They kept battling, some freshmen got some opportunities on the mound and did a heckuva job, and we had to swing it when we needed it. Everybody picked each other up through the 54 games we played, so proud of everybody for the regular season. Hopefully, we can keep it going for the long haul.”
In the first game Friday, Crowder sophomores Ross Carver and Colten Weber and Fort Scott sophomore Bo Dallas and redshirt freshman Hunter Little battled into extra innings.
In the Crowder eighth, Colten Nix led off with a two-strike single, advanced 90 feet on a Michael Chrisman sacrifice, and scored on Rod Criss’ opposite field single to right.
Crowder earned the sweep in Game 2 by virtue of some timely hits by Sam Chaput, Cameron Tissue, and Freilin Cabrera and high-quality relief pitching by Corey Lummis and Andrew Bradshaw.
Fort Scott dropped to 32-18 overall after the losses; the Greyhounds entered Friday’s doubleheader on a five-game winning streak.
“Both guys with runners in scoring position, they stepped it up,” Lallemand said of Carver and Dallas. “They battled it up a little bit. You know, you’d like to say, could have done this, could have done that, but you’ve got to tip your hat to the pitching staff of both sides. The guy (Dallas) that they threw just kept us off-balance and hammered the fastball in some counts that pitched to him pretty well. He did a lot of good things, but we were fortunate to keep them off the board and be the home team with three outs up on them. We finally came through with another two-out hit. We’ve been pretty good throughout the year with two outs and it’s nice to see that on the last regular season day.”
Carver took a no-decision and the fireball-throwing righty finished with one run (earned) allowed on four hits with 14 strikeouts and one walk over six innings. It was a stunning return to form for a pitcher who once ranked among NJCAA Division I leaders in strikeouts before an injury knocked him out of the rotation for weeks.
“Five weeks, he was out,” Lallemand said. “Last Saturday (against State Fair), he wasn’t very good, so we were concerned. Now, we really feel good about him starting the sub-regional game Friday.”
Weber earned the victory with two scoreless innings of relief and he struck out three and walked none to accentuate the strong outing.
Dallas allowed one run (earned) on five hits with six strikeouts and two walks over six innings, while Little took the loss and allowed one run (earned) on four hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
Fort Scott and Crowder broke the scoreless spell in the third.
In the Fort Scott half, Alexei Cazarin led off with a single and advanced 180 feet on an error by right fielder Chrisman. Carver struck out Jeff Vance and Owen Wilson for two outs, setting up the stage for Fort Scott native Grant Goldston to come through with a clutch two-out RBI single.
With one down in the Crowder third, Tissue hit a single and then on the very next pitch, Cabrera delivered a RBI double.
Both teams scored their runs in pairs in the second game — Crowder two in the first, Fort Scott two in the second, Crowder two in the third, Fort Scott two in the fourth, and Crowder two in the fifth.
Lummis and Bradshaw nipped that Fort Scott two-run response pattern in the bud.
Lummis earned the victory and he allowed no runs on no hits with four strikeouts and one walk over his five outs.
Bradshaw picked up the save and he allowed no runs on one hit with one strikeout and no walks over the final five outs.
Redshirt sophomore Cyprienne Dussenne made his first appearance since 2017, but unfortunately he could not get an out in the fourth.
Crowder took the lead for good in the fifth with a patented two-out rally against former Joplin, Riverton, and Webb City prep star Matt Duley.
Cabrera doubled, Chaput walked, and Nix walked to load the bases for Chrisman, who brought home Cabrera and Chaput on a single.
Crowder scored in the first on a Cabrera double and a Nix sacrifice fly. Cabrera left the first game after a hard slide into third on a stolen base and remained designated hitter in the second game.
Tissue and Chaput hit solo home runs in the Crowder third.
Former Neosho High standout and Crowder redshirt freshman Jacob Galbraith came in for Jorden Hussein at second base late in the second game and recorded the final out of the game on a 4-3 groundout. Galbraith also struck out to end the sixth.
NO. 16 CROWDER 2, FORT SCOTT 1 (8 innings)
Fort Scott 001 000 00 — 1 6 1
Crowder 001 000 01 — 2 9 1
Bo Dallas, Hunter Little (7) and Jeff Vance. Ross Carver, Colten Weber (7) and Sam Chaput, Jack Stroth. WP: Weber. LP: Little. E: Hampton Hall; Michael Chrisman. 2B: Owen Wilson; Freilin Cabrera. SH: Cameron McClure, Chrisman. SB: Grant Goldston; Chaput, Cabrera. HBP: Quinn Cherry. LOB: Fort Scott 6, Crowder 9.
NO. 16 CROWDER 6, FORT SCOTT 4
Fort Scott 020 200 0 — 4 6 0
Crowder 202 020 X — 6 9 0
Michael Barnes, Matt Duley (4), Brayden Leathers (5), Bailey Cantu (6) and Bradley McClean. Xavier Leduc, Cyprienne Dussenne (4), Corey Lummis (4), Andrew Bradshaw (5) and Jack Stroth. WP: Lummis. LP: Duley. SV: Bradshaw. HR: Sam Chaput, Cameron Tissue. 2B: Freilin Cabrera 2. SF: Colten Nix. HBP: Aris Nakagawa. LOB: Fort Scott 7, Crowder 3.