By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
Joplin, thanks a great deal to Colton Johnson, brushed off a seven-run third inning and rallied to beat Carthage 12-11 in a District 15 American Legion baseball game on Friday night at Carl Lewton Stadium.
The Miners scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to snap a 10-10 deadlock and Johnson, a right-hander, worked out of a jam in the bottom of the inning.
Johnson, who’ll be a senior at Joplin High School, unloaded a two-out grand slam home run in the sixth inning to catch Carthage at 10-10. Johnson drew a bases-loaded walk to score Gavin Jones with the go-ahead run in the seventh.
Johnson allowed three runs in 41⁄3 innings of relief to receive credit for the victory.
Said Carthage coach Doug Baugh: “The slam was a killer.”
Said Joplin coach Randy Graham: “Colton went out and competed. That’s just what we needed.”
Graham was standing in for Drew Schulte (missing because of a family commitment).
“I’m ready to retire with a 1.000 winning percentage,” Graham said.
Johnson said he also had hit a slam during this prep season. The homer was his second of the Legion campaign.
“I was just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere,” Johnson said of the poke to left center.
Added Graham of Johnson: “I don’t believe he pitched in the spring and hadn’t for several seasons. But, again, he competes.”
The contest wasn’t an artistic success for either team. Carthage had the most hits, 14-9, but the three Carthage pitchers yielded 10 bases on balls and plunked three batters. The teams committed eight errors.
Said Baugh: “I was proud of the way we battled. We had a chance to win at the end. Obviously, both teams hit the ball pretty well.”
Carthage starting pitcher Shaw Robertson, left-hander out of McAuley Catholic, was hoping to beat Joplin for the second time in a week. But he was lifted after 21⁄3 innings.
“Shaw didn’t have it,” Baugh said. “However, in his defense, we probably were bringing him back too quickly because of the number of pitches he’d thrown on Tuesday night.”
Joplin’s Jones, leading off, had two singles, two passes and a hit by pitch in scoring four runs. Tristan Ash drove in two runs for the Miners and Chris Leonardi had two hits.
Mason Goade had four hits for Carthage and also sparkled at shortstop. Garnering two hits apiece were Sawyer Shepherd, Jared Heman and Tyler Talley. Heman also had two RBI.
Joplin (13-2, 3-1) is scheduled to entertain Three Rivers (Okla.) at 1 p.m. today in a doubleheader at Wendell Redden Stadium in the Joplin Athletic Complex. Caleb Garton, a right-hander, is the probable starting pitcher in the first game for the Miners.
Carthage (5-11, 1-5) is idle until a home District 15 outing against Cassville at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.