JOPLIN — The Southwest Missouri All-Stars, a team put together just days before the start of the tournament, earned the Premier Junior Championship Gold Bracket title and completed a run of eight wins in five days with a 7-4 victory Sunday over Colorado Slammers Jenkins at historic Joe Becker Stadium.
Southwest Missouri jumped out to a 5-0 lead after scoring three runs in the first and two in the second and reliever Tyler Ledford mostly subdued Slammers Jenkins over the last three innings after they made it a 5-3 contest with three in the third against starter Holden Ledford.
Devrin Weathers kickstarted the offense with three hits and three runs scored, the trio of Cade Carlson, Carson Johnson, and Cole Martin each produced two hits, and Carlson drove in three and Martin added two RBI. The All-Stars fell just under their eight-run average for the nine-game tourney.
Keep in mind that Slammers Jenkins had three runners thrown out at the plate.
Southwest Missouri finished the tourney with a 8-1 record and the team found several different ways to win baseball games.
“It’s been an awesome week,” Southwest Missouri coach Kyle Wolf said. “The reality is, from a coaching standpoint, I told them right there that I stood with my palms up, which means let them play and just let good players make plays. That’s what they did. In big moments, those guys stepped up. In every single big moment they did something to help us win. One of the things that stands out to me about this week is that going through the roster and thinking about the kids, every one of them contributed in some way. I can remember a moment where they helped us have success.
“From the beginning, this group of guys had a lot of confidence in themselves. Knowing what type of talent we were going to play, you’re always worried about how pitching’s going to hold up, but from the first time we got together, they had a lot of confidence in their ability. I think the thing that stood out over the course of the week was just how they gelled together and there were no egos. They were all great teammates.”
Weathers started out the championship game in style with a double off Slammers starter Zach Delima’s 3-1 pitch. Carlson singled home Weathers, Martin brought home Carlson, and Cale McCallister scored with the help of an error.
Carlson struck again in the second with a two-run single bringing home speedy runners Monty Mailes and Weathers. Carlson picked up a team-high 13 RBI over the week, highlighted by five Saturday night in the quarters against Rawlings Tigers Velo and three Sunday against Slammers Jenkins.
“Cade was unbelievable all week,” Wolf said. “Two triples (Saturday) and five RBI. He hit throughout the tournament and again in big moments when we needed a timely hit. The tournament started off with Devrin at first base, we put on a hit-and-run, and Cade hits a ball in the gap and Devrin scores from first. That was within the first six pitches of the tournament. I think that set the tone for how we were going to play the rest of the week.”
Josh Beattie’s two-run single put Slammers Jenkins on the board and Christian Carew hit a RBI single. Meanwhile, Slammers Jenkins had two of its three runners thrown out at the plate in the third.
Johnson hit a RBI single plating Weathers in the fourth and Southwest Missouri tacked on another insurance run on Martin’s RBI single in the sixth.
“They’re huge,” Wolf said. “It’s huge to start the game with those runs, but just as importantly, that run scored there in the top of the sixth, that’s just demoralizing to the other team.”
Southwest Missouri 10, Stix Mistler 2
JOPLIN — In the semifinals Sunday morning, Southwest Missouri trailed Stix Mistler 2-0 before exploding for eight runs in the fourth inning.
Southwest Missouri scored two more in the fifth and forced Stix Mistler into either scoring a run to survive or going home a win shy of a spot in the championship game.
Stix Mistler went home.
Nine different hitters in the Southwest Missouri lineup had at least one hit — Carlson and Gage Kelley each had two and Weathers, McCallister, Johnson, Martin, Luke Benfield, Titus Atkins, and Weston Durman each had one — while Weathers, Atkins, and Durman each drove in two runs.
McCallister earned the victory and he allowed two runs (both earned) on four hits with three strikeouts and one walk over four innings.