The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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July 28, 2012

Miners rebound from loss, capture Zone 3 championship

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The Joplin Miners, forced by Springfield Hillcrest to play a second game in the championship round of the Missouri AAA Zone 3 American Legion Tournament, rebounded in championship fashion.

The Miners, escaping a ninth-inning jam, prevailed in Game 2 at Carl Lewton Stadium on Saturday night.

Each score ironically was 6-4.

The Miners, 35-18 under Bobby Stackhouse and assistant Brett Abell, advance to the four-team Missouri finals opening at Sedalia on Thursday. Hillcrest finished 21-23.

Hillcrest’s rally in the final inning was thwarted by shortstop Chris Leonardo’s diving stop of a grounder up the middle with the bases loaded and a run already across the plate.

Leonardi tagged second base with a hand and threw to first base for the double play from his knees.

“It was a heck of a game and its finish was more exciting than I liked,” Stackhouse said. “But we’ll take it. I am very happy.”

Bryce Ash wound up saving the game for fellow right-hander Nathan Cox.

Hillcrest was lifted by a strong pitching performance by right-hander Joel Lewallen in the first game.

Lewallen, supported by a stellar defense from the middle innings, only allowed a leadoff single by Ash in the ninth inning over the last five frames. Lewallen scattered six hits, struck out nine, walked five and hit two batters.

Hlllcrest, trailing 4-3, pushed across two runs in the top of the fifth inning to create the final score.

Singling Dallas Williams and the walking Lewallen scored the runs on a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt by Jerrod Harmon and a single by Deric Link, respectively.

Williams and Link, who drove in two tallies, finished with three hits apiece.

Williams and Lewallen wound up scoring after drawing walks to open the game for the Merchants. Harmon singled home Williams and Deric Link’s sacrifice fly plated Lewallen.

Harmon also drove in Nate Green with a sacrifice fly in the third inning for a brief 3-2 lead.

The Miners, who stranded six runners in the first three innings, scored a run in the first inning on a two-out single by Brett Graham, a walk to Keith Simpson and a double by Tristan Ash.

Rex Whisner, who had a great catch in center field in the second game., scored in the second inning by drawing a two-out walk, stealing second and crossing the plate on an infield error.

Graham tripled in the third inning and promptly scored on Simpson’s home run pulled to left. The Miners, with one out, loaded the bases on a pass and the two hit batters but couldn’t score.


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