The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

High School Sports

April 13, 2013

Diamond tops Fairland for Mickey Mantle Classic title

COMMERCE, Okla. — It’s safe to say that the Diamond Wildcats have found a formula they like for the top of the lineup.

Just three games — all wins — into a minor reorganization at the top of their batting order, the Wildcats got a a load of production from the first five spots in the lineup and outslugged the Fairland Owls 8-4 Saturday in the title game of the Comet Division of the Mickey Mantle Classic at Commerce High School.

“This is only the third game we’ve had that top-four in that order,” Diamond coach Nathan Cook said. “They’re starting to gel. Those four are definitely there for a reason.”

Those four — Austin Singleton, Jordan Douglas, Ryan Jinks and Zach Renfro — were definitely salty on Saturday. Throw in the five-hole hitter, Brodie Bien, and the group was stellar.

The top-five went a combined 8-for-16 with eight runs batted in and six runs.

They accounted for all but one of the team’s hits and all of its RBI.

The key half-inning was the fourth for Diamond, after Fairland scored three times in the top-half to take a 4-3 lead.

The Wildcats responded by taking advantage of an error and a hit batter with consecutive singles by Douglas, Jinks, Renfro and Bien.

Jinks and Renfro each drove in single runs with their hits before Bien’s single to right drove home a pair for a 7-4 lead.

“The key for us was having short-term memory there,” Cook said. “We didn’t let that get us down and we answered.

“Mentally that was big. We came back and answered. The kids came out swinging at the first pitch that was in the zone and put the ball in play.”

Jordan Divine pitched the final four innings, allowing just one run — an unearned run that was part of a safety squeeze bunt that turned into a three-run at-bat thanks to two Diamond errors.

Divine struck out four and allowed just three hits.

“Our pitching was effective,” Cook said. “Jordan Divine came in the game in a tough spot and pitched his way out of it.”

Diamond (8-4) takes a three-game winning streak into the heart of its Spring River Valley Conference schedule. The Wildcats — who lost two, then won five straight and lost two more before their current streak — host Liberal on Monday in an attempt to improve on their 1-1 conference mark.

“I think this is a big boost,” Cook said of the Mantle title. “I think the boys will go into conference play this week with momentum on our side.”

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