(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Sikeston's 12U All-Star team has seen enough of Mineral Area.
Their rivals from up north stole a state championship from the All-Stars during the state tournament earlier this season and ended their season Monday beating Sikeston 6-1 during the 2012 Midwest Plains Regional Tournament at the Sikeston Sports Complex.
"We've been playing that same group since our team was nine years old," Sikeston head coach Matt Gilmer said. "(Mineral Area) just battles. We need to learn a little bit of that on our end."
Mineral Area pounded out 11 hits and was led by standout Chris Loida, who smacked two home runs and closed out the final three innings on the mound.
This marks the third straight loss to Mineral Area Sikeston has suffered in less than a month.
"We had to come back and beat them during the state tournament," Mineral Area coach Mike Mahurin said. "They beat us earlier in the tournament and we had to turn around and beat them twice to win the state tournament.
"There's kind of a rivalry between us. But, it's good rivalry."
Loida put Mineral Area on top in the first inning with the first of his two home runs -- a solo shot over the left field fence. He added his second dinger in the third which was a two-run home run to put his squad up 4-0.
"Chris is a good ball player for us," Mahurin said. "He got us going and we just took off from there."
Sikeston, on the other hand, struggled offensively.
Mineral Area starter Dylan Manion kept Sikeston off the board during his three innings of work.
"He pitched really well," Mahurin said. "He held them down for three innings."
Manion, who doesn't possess much speed, used his lack of firepower to his advantage keeping Sikeston hitters out in front. He allowed just one hit and one walk. He also struck out two.
"They've thrown the Manion kid against us in the past and he's a soft thrower," Gilmer said. "We try to be aggressive and we hit fastball pitchers better. We always struggle against him."
While Manion and Loida kept the shutout intact, Mineral Area added two more runs in the fifth inning taking a secure 6-0 advantage.
Sikeston finally broke the drought in the bottom of the sixth when Jarred Sandlin connected for a solo home run off of the hard-throwing Loida.
But it was too little, too late.
"Anytime you get ahead and get some momentum it makes it easier for you," Gilmer said about Mineral Area's fast start. "Especially with 12 year olds -- it really shows. We never recovered from it."
Sandlin led the All-Stars with two hits. Joe Baker, who received the game's MVP honor for Sikeston, added one hit and plenty of defensive heroics in the outfield. Noah Brown rounded out Sikeston's hits, totaling four.
"It seems like it gets more competitive every year," said Gilmer. "Everyone is definitely getting better and our team is getting better.
"We just got beat today by a better team."
Mineral Area advances into today taking on Paola, Kan. in a 'winner-take-all' situation in order to have the chance to play Lamarr, Colo., who remains undefeated in the tournament.
"This is kind of the road we've taken the last four tournaments we've been in," said Mahurin. "We're pretty comfortable about what we're doing."