Stillwater News Press

High School Sports

May 17, 2014

Fairy tale title: Hollman throws one-hit shutout in state championship

NORMAN, Okla. — It was a moment straight out of Hollywood.

Rallying behind Nick Hollman, whose older brother Max died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 30, the Stillwater High baseball team went on to win the school’s first state championship since 1957 — with Hollman as the winning pitcher in the 6-0 victory over Tulsa Kelley, which upset Stillwater in last year’s regional.

“Nobody could have written this up any better,” Stillwater senior Carson Teel said. “This is the type of stuff you see in movies.”

“There were a couple of times in the first-base box today where I made sure I wasn’t dreaming,” first-year Stillwater coach Jimmy Harris added. “After (Friday) night, the way we won it and then coming out the way we did today, there was no doubt that it was meant to be. Then getting to have Nick out there and the way he performed, he was a man on a mission.”

Making the moment even more memorable was dominant performance put up by Hollman — who was starting in just his third game of the year after serving as Stillwater’s closer for much of the year — as he and his teammates wore the same uniforms as they did at Max’s funeral.

The Stillwater senior took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before a weak dribbler on the infield — after a leadoff error — ruined the pristine conclusion to the fairy tale.

But Hollman wrote an even better ending built with drama. After he loaded the bases with a walk with still no outs in the inning, Hollman struck out the next batter then induced an inning-ending double play — Stillwater’s second of the game.

“I’ve got my brother here and I know my other brother would have been here, too,” Hollman said. “There’s not much more I could ask for.”

Hollman didn’t have to ask for much from his offense, but the Pioneer bats were as hot as they had been in recent weeks.

Stillwater got the early lead with a sacrifice fly by Jon Littell to score Teel, and a two-out double by Michael Higgins that plated T.J. Black. The Pioneers also put together a four-run rally in the third thanks to a bases-loaded triple from Tyler Burnett — who was the defensive hero of the first two games of the tournament — to score Brooks Zimmerman, Tyler Swick (who was pinch running for Higgins) and Will Fowler. Burnett scored on a sacrifice fly by Harrison Cornforth.

“This whole postseason, Tyler has played lights out. He was the reason we were still in this tournament,” Harris said. “There’s a lot of guys that deserve credit for this, we’re a great team with a lot of great players, but some of the plays he made this tournament, was so huge for us. I told him he showed up at the right time and it’s just a great finish for him.”

Originally, Harris said the dramatic conclusion to the sixth was due to be Hollman’s curtain call. But after sharing a touching moment with the team in the dugout, the first-year Stillwater coach wanted Hollman to have a chance to share the moment with the Stillwater fans.

“We were all in the dugout crying, me, coach (Kyle) Johnson and Nick, and we’re all telling him great job because we took him out,” Harris said. “But then I was like, ‘What if we do this? What if we just run him out there, let him face one batter, so he can have the proper departure.’”

And just as if in a movie, Hollman struck out that one batter before handing the ball off to fellow senior Gunner Black — not before sharing a hug with Black on his way to the dugout where he was mobbed by his teammates.

“That put multiple exclamation points to the end of the story,” Teel said. “He deserved all of that.”

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