JOPLIN — The No. 14-ranked Crowder Roughriders scored 15 runs in the first three innings Friday night en route to a 15-3 run-rule victory over the Mineral Area Cardinals in a Region 16 tournament elimination game at historic Joe Becker Stadium.
The first seven spots in the Crowder lineup each had multi-hit performances and combined for 17 of the team’s 18 hits and for all 13 RBI.
The ‘Riders took full advantage of a Mineral Area team not only coming off a loss but a loss in 13 innings that saw the Cardinals go through multiple pitchers.
Most importantly for Crowder, who needs to beat State Fair twice Saturday to win the region title, freshman pitcher Tanner Norris gave the ‘Riders five innings Friday night and Crowder used only two arms in their victories Friday against Jefferson and Mineral Area.
Crowder entered Saturday 45-14 on the season.
“You couldn’t have scripted it better,” Crowder head coach Travis Lallemand said. “With what we’ve had to go through today, they had a 13-inning game, we had a sitting game, so I’m not sure which is worse. I could probably tell you the 13-inning loss is tough to come back from, I’ve been on that side of it too, it’s not easy to deal with, you feel for a team that goes through it and has to turn around and play, but that’s the way it’s bracketed.
“Getting out of the gates was huge. If you don’t, they may play with a little confidence and start building it as they go through because they just played 13 competitive innings. You’ve got to take it away from a team early in those situations.”
Freilin Cabrera, Sam Chaput, and Colten Nix each had three hits and Cameron Tissue, Michael Chrisman, Quinn Cherry, and Rod Criss each came through with two. Cabrera, Chaput, and Cherry each homered and Chaput and Criss connected on doubles. Chaput and Cherry each drove in four runs, Cabrera and Criss each picked up two RBI, and Chrisman added one RBI to finish with four overall Friday.
Norris, not pitching on full rest, earned the victory and the Willard product allowed three runs (three earned) on four hits with six strikeouts and five walks over five innings. Norris improved to 9-0 on the season and his nine victories lead Crowder this season.
Crowder 5, Jefferson 2
JOPLIN — Crowder sophomore pitcher Ross Carver delivered an incredible performance Friday in the first elimination game, sending home top seed and No. 15 Jefferson. The Vikings entered the tournament on a 29-game winning streak, but lost both tournament games for an early return home for the defending champions.
Carver allowed two runs (both earned) on five hits with 13 strikeouts and two walks over nine innings. Last time he pitched at Joe Becker, Carver struck out 14 Fort Scott Greyhound hitters.
“Wow,” Lallemand said of Carver’s performance. “13 strikeouts, two walks, that’s one of the most dominant performances I’ve ever seen. He absolutely buried them in counts and every pitch was productive. There were very few pitches that he gave hitters off. That’s why it’s one of the most dominant, not just the results but the process involved and what he was able to do around the zone. They were sitting in 0-2, 1-2 counts all day long.”
Offensively, Crowder scored one run in the first, two in the third, and two more single run tallies in the sixth and seventh, while Jefferson managed just one each in the third and the ninth.
Chrisman led Crowder with a pair of hits and three RBI, and his two-run hit accounted for the runs in the third. Tissue and Nix each had two hits and Cabrera, Cherry, Criss, and Jorden Hussein each added one. Tissue and Cabrera each scored two runs and Nix and Hussein each picked up RBI.
The ‘Riders scored all their runs against Jefferson ace Jason Rackers.
“Rackers is a tough arm,” Lallemand said. “On days like this, I don’t think you can legitimately think you’re going to put up a bunch of big innings, but when you have a chance to put up a run here or there, you better do it or they’re going to strike and you might be staring a deficit in the face, then they’re tough. We controlled the game right from the start, I thought the first inning we set the tone being aggressive with him (Rackers) and making him change his tone early.”
Jefferson finished at 47-10 on the season, and Crowder gave Jefferson four losses.