By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
The Joplin Eagles baseball team made plenty of mistakes — four errors, seven hit batsmens and five walks.
Still, the Eagles were one hit away from earning a victory in a 9-8 extra-inning loss to the Nevada Tigers on Wednesday at Wendell Redden Stadium.
“We weren’t real clean in any aspect really,” Joplin coach Kirk Harryman said. “I think six of their runs reached base on either a walk, a hit batsman or an error. That’s something we really need to clean up. It’s a little disappointing in that aspect, but at the same time we competed well.”
Joplin (10-6) fell behind 8-3 after Nevada (9-3) scored five runs off three hits, three errors, a walk and a hit batter in the top of the sixth.
Having difficulty throwing inside to right-handed batters, Joplin pitcher Blake Brown hit Nevada’s Morgan Long with one out. Long’s hit-by-pitch was followed by two consecutive infield errors and a walk. Lane Ketterman, Cole Sanderson and Alex Payne then hit three straight singles with Ketterman and Sanderson knocking in two runs each.
Joplin aided the Tigers’ cause with several throwing miscues. Offensively, the Eagles had numerous mistakes on the basepaths.
“We got to learn situations and run the bases a little better and get our heads up when we run,” Harryman said. “We got to stop costing ourselves runs and we got to quit giving away bases on defense. We got to do the little things right in order for us to be the good team that we want to be, and the type of team we’ve been the last couple weeks.”
The Eagles clawed back with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Kealin Smith had an RBI double, while Rex Whisner and Nate Brummer each had RBI singles in the inning to pull within 8-6.
Joplin tied the game in the bottom of the seventh as it took advantage of four walks and an infield error.
Nevada took a 9-8 lead in the top of the eighth. Joplin pitcher Austin Zengel hit Sanderson to open the inning. Payne singled to right field, and Clay Regers registered an RBI fielder’s choice.
After all that, however, the Eagles still had an opportunity in the bottom of the eighth. Joplin’s Chris Leonardi reached on a walk to open the inning. Brett Graham then flied out to right field for the first out.
Adam St. Peter followed with a deep fly ball to left field that seemed certain to sail over the fence when it left the bat but was caught by Nevada’s Brett Norton at the fence.
“We knew flyballs weren’t going to go anywhere today,” Nevada coach Danny Penn said. “We saw that one was crushed to left and somehow it stayed in the park.”
Joplin’s Tristan Ash ended the game by grounding out to second base, leaving Leonardi stranded on second base. The Eagles left nine runners on base in the game.
“I thought we hit the ball hard all day long really, but with a 20 mph wind blowing in it’s a horrible day to be a hitter,” Harryman said.
For the Tigers, they feel good to leave with the victory after surrendering a five-run lead.
“There are a lot of things we can learn from this game, and it’s a lot easier to learn from a win than it would be to learn from a loss,” Penn said. “We definitely gave them chances to come back in the game. A couple times we tried to lose the game, but the fact that we won makes it much easier to swallow.”
Sophomore Taylor Manes earned the win for Nevada, while Zengel recorded the loss for the Eagles.
Nevada will be at home today against El Dorado Springs. Joplin will try to bounce back as it returns to Ozark Conference play today at Waynesville. The Eagles are 2-1 in league games.