CLAREMORE – The Grove Ridgerunners broke a seven-game losing streak and advanced to the third place game at the Tiger/Zebra Classic by holding off Joplin for a 9-8 win in their final game of pool play Friday.
The Ridgerunners (10-7) lost to McAlester 14-4 in their first game on Friday, but with McAlester, Grove and Joplin all finishing at 1-2 in the tournament, the Ridgerunners advanced to meet Miami in Saturday’s third place game on a tiebreaker.
McAlester (9-5) scored six runs in the third inning and added two in the fourth and three each in the fifth and sixth to run away with the win, pounding out 13 hits off Grove pitching.
Dalton Wood went 3-for-4 with six RBIs, pounding out two doubles and a home run. His three-run shot was the big hit in the Buffaloes six-run third inning. He later added a two-run double in the fourth and another RBI double in the fifth.
Jake Spychalski led Grove with a 2-for-3 day at the plate, including an RBI single in the third. Ty Phillips, Kody Stephenson and Ty Morrow had an RBI apiece. The Ridgerunners scored three in the second inning to take the early lead.
Taylor Mullins went 3-for-4 with three RBIs for McAlester, who lost to Claremore 15-0 and to Joplin 10-9 in their other pool games.
The Ridgerunners fell behind early to the Eagles but bounced back to win a back-and-forth affair.
Joplin scored four run in the top of the first to take the early lead, but Justin Tesereau answered with a two-run home run in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead in half.
Tesereau would also be involved in a run-scoring play the next inning, when his grounder to second base was mishandled, allowing two runs to score to tie the game at 4.
An error on Morrow’s grounder to short stop in the third inning resulted in two more runs and Grove’s first lead of the game. Kaden Livermore would add a two-run single in the fourth and the Ridgerunners appeared to be well on their way to the win.
But Joplin got five hits in a big fifth inning, eventually tying the game at 8 on a passed ball before Russ came on in relief and extinguished the rally.
The senior lefty pitched 2.2 innings, allowing four hits and striking out five and eventually picking up his fourth win of the season when Grove squeezed out a run in the bottom of the fifth.
Cordale Barton was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning for Grove and Morrow, pinch running for Barton, advanced to second and third on a sacrifice by Stephenson and a ground out by Russ before scoring the winning run on a passed ball.
Russ allowed just two baserunners over the final two innings to make the lead stand up.
Grove will face Miami at 2 p.m. in Claremore.