JOPLIN — After the first three days of the Premier Baseball Junior Championships, the Southwest Missouri All-Stars won their first five games and they came away Friday with a sweep at Warren Turner Field, defeating the Arlington A’s Howeth 11-6 and Stix Mistler 10-8.
Southwest Missouri fell behind early in both games, but pieced together some big innings and then held on for two victories.
In the opener Friday, Southwest Missouri started in a 6-0 hole before rattling off 11 unanswered runs, scoring four in the third, three in the fourth, and four in the fifth.
In the second game, Southwest Missouri again trailed early before pushing across three in the third, four in the fourth, and two in the sixth to erase that 3-1 deficit.
Neosho High standout Gage Kelley earned the victory and he allowed three runs (one earned) on seven hits with four strikeouts and one walk over five innings. Devrin Weathers picked up the save, as Southwest Missouri finally closed the door shut on the Stix.
“Our kids did a good job of battling through adversity in that game,” Southwest Missouri coach Kyle Wolf said. “Gage Kelley did a good job, gave us a good start, allowed us to eventually take the lead in the middle innings, we relaxed, and took advantage of our opportunities.”
Against the A’s Howeth, Drew Beyer’s inside-the-park grand slam highlighted 11 runs on 11 hits and Carson Johnson and Luke Benfield each added triples and Kelley and Titus Atkins each doubled. Johnson led the way with two hits and nine other Southwest Missouri players recorded a hit. Cade Carlson and Atkins each had two RBI.
Tyler Ledford earned the victory with four scoreless innings in relief and he struck out four and walked one.
Cade McCallister swung a big stick for Southwest Missouri during the first three days and against Stix Mistler, he swung the biggest stick on both teams with three hits — including two triples — and five RBI. Most of his offensive production came during two games — three hits and five RBI in the tournament opener Wednesday against Building Champions Luangamath.
Weathers added three hits and three runs scored and Carlson and Monty Mailes each scored twice.
Southwest Missouri and the Rawlings Tigers Velo were the only teams to start 5-0. Every other team took a loss during the first three days.