The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 28, 2012

Joplin tops Neosho 8-3

By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer

— The Joplin High School baseball team sent coach Kirk Harryman winging toward career win No. 300 on Friday.

Well, maybe winging is a bit deceptive considering it was only No. 201 for the skipper.

The Eagles used the bunting game to perfection in beating Neosho 8-3 at South Middle School.

Joplin, trailing 1-0, scored seven runs in the bottom of the second inning and sophomore right-hander Tristan Ash made the runs stand up in the nonconference game.

Harryman, a graduate of Neosho High School and Missouri Southern State University, is in his 13th season as the head coach.

No. 200 came at the expense of Lebanon in an Ozark Conference contest on Thursday night.

“It means I’ve coached a lot of games. I’ve lost a lot of games, too,” Harryman said with a laugh. “We’ve had a lot of outstanding players and outstanding teams in those 13 years. I’m having a lot of fun.”

The Eagles, 9-11 overall this season, resume at 11 a.m. today with a makeup game at Carthage.

Adam St. Peter was plunked by a pitch and Nathan Brummer singled before Harryman turned to the Eagles’ short game.

Tristan Ash’s sacrifice bunt was thrown away and both runners scored.. Ash wound up at third and courtesy runner Colin Hughes promptly tallied on Keith Simpson’s sacrifice fly (snagged in right field by a diving Wayde Hartman).

Tyler Russell doubled in front of a bunt single by Chris Leonardi.

Said Neosho coach Donny Pennington: “You might as well continue bunting if we can’t field it.”

A successful squeeze bunt by Bryce Ash then was thrown away to score two runs.

Another bunt single — this time by Dayton Whitehead — set up Brett Graham’s two-run double to cap the inning.

Leonardi doubled in the sixth inning, swiped third and — you guessed it — came home on Whitehead’s squeeze bunt.

“We didn’t make the plays. We weren’t ready,” Pennington said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Said Harryman: “We knew the ‘short game’ would be important because of the new bats. The bats have changed the game (to less offense). You change with the times. Coaches in southwest Missouri will tell you batting averges are down.

“We executed today as well as we have all season,” Harryman said.

“I don’t believe that Tristan (Ash) had his best stuff early in the game,” Harryman said. “But he certainly was tough after those two errors helped Neosho to two runs in the fifth inning. He retired the last nine batters with five striking out.”

.Notes: Neosho’s Pennington is in his first season as head coach after assisting Eddie Crupper. Pennington, a 1994 graduate of Nevada High School, played in college at Brown-Mackie of Overland Park (Kan.) and Milligan (Tenn.). .... Harryman said that St. Peter, a junior right-hander, probably will open on the mound against Carthage. ... Neosho (5-12) resumes on Monday with a 4:30 p.m. game at Rogers (Ark.) Heritage.