JOPLIN — The third inning during Saturday’s Class 5, District 11 quarterfinal against Republic epitomized so much of a 11-16 season for the Neosho Wildcats.
Republic found ways to score three runs during its half of the third, while Neosho failed to push across a single run after loading the bases with no outs.
Republic scored four more runs in the sixth en route to a 7-1 victory at Joplin High School.
The Wildcats scored their lone run in the seventh.
Jared Stephens took a loss in his final start for Neosho and he allowed seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits with nine strikeouts and no walks over 5 1/3 innings. Stephens finished at 96 pitches, 74 for strikes and a higher percentage than his Jared counterpart, Republic’s Jared Hughes.
Mason Ray closed it out for Neosho and he allowed no runs on two hits with one strikeout and two walks over 1 2/3 innings.
Hughes earned the victory and he allowed no runs on four hits with five strikeouts and three walks over six innings. Hughes lost to Stephens earlier this season in a 3-2 game at Republic.
In the Republic third, Vincent Pyeatt and Jaden Duvall reached on infield singles. Tyler Cavener opened the scoring with a RBI single and Duvall and Cavener each scored on a throwing error.
In the Neosho third, Gage Kelley hit a leadoff single, Ray walked, and Durman hit a bunt single to load the bases. Republic took a force play at home for the first out, Hughes struck out A.C. Marion for the second, and Cook grounded out on a hard-hit ball straight to the pitcher.
Republic bashed five straight hits in the sixth against Stephens en route to a seven-run lead.
Kelley led off the Neosho seventh with a single and scored the Wildcats’ only run with the help of a Durman single and a Republic error. Kaden Dickens flied out to end the game with the bases loaded.
Two innings stranding the bases loaded contributed to 10 runners left behind for Neosho.
At one point in the season, Neosho had a 8-5 record, but the Wildcats lost 11 of their final 14 games.