Inclement weather moved a road doubleheader to Joe Becker Stadium, where Joplin was on the wrong end of a pair of games with Willard and Springfield Catholic on Saturday.
The Eagles (9-4) opened the day against the Tigers and fell into an early hole when Willard crossed home six times in the second inning. Joplin broke through with a run in the fifth and trimmed the lead to one with a four-run sixth. The Eagles loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh but were unable to bring home the tying run in a 6-5 loss.
Springfield Catholic scored one in the second to take the lead before pushing home three runs in the fifth four a 4-0 cushion. Joplin crossed the plate once in the sixth but couldn’t come up with another run before the final out was made.
“We knew coming into it that we were playing two really good baseball teams,” Joplin coach Kyle Wolf said. “We knew we had to do things well to give ourselves an opportunity to win. We did a good job in the first game of fighting back to really be one swing away from having a chance to win that game. In the second game, it was just a couple little mistakes in the midst of that game to give them an opportunity. They are a very disciplined and fundamental baseball team who took advantage of them.”
WILLARD 6, JOPLIN 5
Willard took control of the first game of the day after Kade Biellier connected for a two-out grand slam to cap a six-run second inning.
Joplin’s Fielding Campbell scored in the bottom of the fifth following a single from Bodee Carlson to trim the lead to 6-1.
Kirk Chandler cut Joplin’s lead to 6-2 in the sixth with a single up the middle to score Alex Curry. Two batters later, Ethan Guilford tripled down the line to left to play Chandler and Justin McReynolds to make the score 6-4. Carson Wampler followed with a sac fly to right to bring the deficit to one with one inning to play.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Curry reached on an infield single before David Fiscus and Chandler drew consecutive walks to load the bases. The rally ended there as Kyler Stokes and Guilford struck out swinging to end the game.
“I was proud of the effort to go put up some runs there late,” Wolf said. “Especially against those guys because they are a good baseball team and play with a lot of intensity. It would have been easy to lay down when it was 6-0 after the grand slam, but we didn’t.”
Evan Gaunt earned the win after allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits, a walk and two strikeouts in five innings.
Chandler took the loss after allowing six runs on three hits, a strikeout and two walks in two innings. Campbell pitched five scoreless relief innings, scattering two hits and striking out two.
Curry led Joplin at the plate with three hits and a run scored. Chandler had a hit, scored a run and drove in one. Campbell and McReynolds had a hit and scored a run. Guilford tripled and finished with a team-high two RBI.
SPRINGFIELD CATHOLIC 4, JOPLIN 1
Playing as the home team, Springfield Catholic took the initial lead when Collin Davis touched home on a double steal in the bottom of the second.
Jeremy Rader came up with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, while Ben Smith doubled home a run two batters later to highlight the Fighting Irish’s three-run inning.
Joplin broke through on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth when Guilford grounded out to score Joe Jasper.
After a pair of strikeouts started the bottom of the seventh for Joplin, Kohl Cooper and Curry singled to bring the tying run to the plate. The game ended with a strikeout by Fiscus.
Cooper started and took the loss after allowing one run on one hit, four walks and two strikeouts in two innings. McReynolds pitched four innings in relief and allowed three runs on four hits and four strikeouts.
Davis earned the win after allowing one unearned run on four hits, two walks and five strikeouts in six innings.
Joplin had no problems putting traffic on the basepaths, as the Eagles had runners on base in each of the last six frames. JHS just couldn’t find a timely hit, stranding 10 total baserunners in the loss.
“I felt like we were going to break through any given time,” Wolf said. “Especially earlier in the game, I thought we hit some balls hard just right at people. We got runners on, we just couldn’t quite get the hit we needed.
“We just have to have a little bit better of a collective approach. I felt like at times that we had nine individuals up there at the plate. I think we need to do a better job of recognizing the game situation and having a little bit more of a team approach on offense.”
Campbell, Cooper, Curry, Fiscus, Chandler and Stokes all had hits in the loss. Guilford picked up the lone RBI, while Jasper scored the only run.
Joplin is at Harrisonville for a 4:30 p.m. matchup on Tuesday.