By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
The Joplin Eagles baseball team started to find its rhythm at the plate during last week’s tournament in Oklahoma.
Joplin carried over that momentum as it strung together 12 hits in a 9-4 win over the Nixa Eagles on Wednesday afternoon at Wendell Redden Stadium.
“I thought we’ve continued to swing the bats well,” Joplin coach Kirk Harryman said. “We had some guys really swing it well down in Oklahoma. Nate Brummer’s probably swinging the bat as well as anyone we’ve had in a while. We just came up with some big hits all up and down the lineup.”
Brett Graham, Tristan Ash, Gavin Jones, Kealin Smith and Brummer each had multiple hits for the Eagles. Brummer, who had a double, a single and an RBI, said the hitting was contagious.
“Coming out of the Oklahoma tournament, I felt like we were swinging the bats pretty hot,” Brummer said. “It was nice to carry it over into this game. Once one guy gets on, the dugout gets up and it’s a string of good hits after that.”
Nixa took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second that included three hits, two passed balls and two wild pitches.
Ash started things for Joplin in the bottom of the inning with a double. Jones was then hit by a pitch, and Smith singled up the middle to plate Ash and Jones. Brummer hit a line drive to left that scored Smith. Joplin sophomore Chris Leonardi reached on an error by Nixa third baseman Scott Minehardt, and Graham hit a two-run single to right-center that scored Brummer and Leonardi.
The hitting attack gave Joplin a 5-2 lead.
“We talk all the time that we have to answer, and I thought we answered really well,” Harryman said. “It was an inning where I thought we gave up some bases and gave them at least one of them. It was good to see us respond and come back and hit the ball and score some runs.”
Ash, who finished the game 3-for-3 with a double and a walk, led off the third inning with a single. Jones’ single moved Ash to third, and Smith knocked Ash in with a sacrifice fly to take a 6-2 lead.
“It was good to see Tristan (Ash) do that,” Harryman said. “He had kind of been pressing a little bit. We talked all day long about getting good pitches to hit and letting balls be balls. I thought we did a decent job of that today. Tristan was a little more patient than he had been and got some good pitches to hit. He really got us rolling.”
Smith knocked in four runs for Joplin, while Graham had three RBI.
Adam St. Peter earned the win for the Eagles, allowing three hits over three innings. Ash pitched the final four innings, limiting Nixa to three hits. Jacob Ruder suffered the loss for Nixa.
Joplin (3-4) is scheduled to face Parkview and Aurora today at the Red and Blue Classic in Springfield.