NEOSHO, Mo. — Getting on base proved challenging for the Raiders this weekend. Crowder swept a fourgame series against Three Rivers on Saturday and Sunday in Neosho, Mo., holding Three Rivers to one run in three of the four games. The sixth-ranked Roughriders won Saturday's opener 7-1 and then beat Three Rivers 16-1 in five innings. On Sunday, the Raiders had their best game in the opener but ultimately lost 7-6 in eight innings. Crowder closed out the series with a 13-1, five-inning win in the nightcap. "It was to see our guys compete against a nationally ranked team, and that's what we're striving to be," Three Rivers coach Tyler Smith said. "I'm realizing we can hang with those guys." In three of the four games, the Raiders had more strikeouts than walks plus hits combined. "The score of a couple of the games got out of hand, which happens when you face a really good team," Smith said. "All four of their high-level arms will be Division I kids if not draft picks."
Three Rivers (13-10, 2-6 Region XVI) has now lost six in a row, all region games, after kicking off its region schedule with pair of wins against Jefferson on March 21. In Thursday's opener, the Raiders held a 6-4 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. Crowder got runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh and tied the game on a sacrifice fly. In the eighth, the Roughriders loaded the bases with nobody out and scored for the walk-off win. Austin Brock (1-1) took the mound in the seventh inning and suffered the loss. He allowed two hits and two walks with a strikeout. The Raiders scored six runs on six hits, with the top four in the lineup getting five hits. Three Rivers also struck out 12 times in the game. Cade Cancilla was 2 for 3 with a run, and Andrew Lara scored twice.
Crowder took a 4-1 lead in the second inning of Sunday's nightcap, then added four runs in the fourth and five in the fifth to end things early. The Raiders made just two strikeouts after striking out a total of 29 times in the first three games of the series. "I think it was mainly just seeing it," Smith said. "When you're facing those power arms, you're going to strike out some, and it's just a matter of seeing it." Tucker Hughes drove in Lane Crowden for the Raiders' only run as Three Rivers finished with five hits and one walk. Sean Pruneau (3-1) started and took his first loss of the season. He pitched 1 2/3 innings with three hits and four walks allowed with two strikeouts. Crowder's James Hicks (5-0) pitched a complete game in Saturday's opener and allowed two hits.
Kolten Poorman hit his fourth home run of the season in the top of the seventh for the Raiders' lone run. Cancilla had the other hit. Chad Donze (1-2) started and pitched four innings with two strikeouts, four hits and six walks in the loss. Crowder (23-4, 8-0) jumped on the Raiders in the nightcap with 14 runs in the first three innings. Briar Fischer (1-2) started and allowed five hits and a walk with no strikeouts over 1 2/3 innings. Poorman drove in Lara for Three Rivers' only run. Those two and Lane Baremore each had one hit for the Raiders, and Christopher Vervoordt earned the team's only walk. The Raiders continue region play at St. Louis on Thursday, then will host St. Louis on Saturday. "It should be a good test for us on how fast we can bounce back after a rough series last weekend," Smith said. "The arms are getting better, we've been pretty safe so far, and hopefully, they've been built up so we can get deeper into games."
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic