By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
It took Stillwater High seven innings to finally get the big hits Friday against Midwest City in the Stillwater Baseball Invitational.
But by that time, the Bombers built a big enough lead that the Pioneers were unable to complete the comeback and fell 8-7 to lose their second game of the home invitational at Couch Park.
“We did a good job of battling, it was just a struggle all day long offensively and it just seemed like a lot of things weren’t going well for us,” SHS coach Tony Holt said. “They could have laid down, but they didn’t and we got some good at-bats in the seventh to give ourselves a chance.”
It wasn’t as if the Pioneers — who were the visiting team in the contest — weren’t getting runners on base. The problem was the team’s inability to take advantage of the base runners.
Stillwater squandered bases-loaded situations in the first three innings — managing to only come away with one run in each the first and third inning.
“It’s not that the kids aren’t trying, but that’s frustrating. We have the bases loaded the first three innings and just get two runs out of the deal,” said Holt, whose squad stranded 15 runners in the loss. “It’s frustrating that we didn’t get more out of that. ... It’s frustrating to have as many runners as we had early with a young man having trouble throwing strikes and not being able to make them pay for it. We have to be able to do that.”
Midwest City kept pace with Stillwater with a run in the second and another in the third. But after another one-run inning by SHS in the fourth, the Bombers busted open the contest by putting up four runs with five hits — with several being simple bloops just over the infield — to chase starting pitcher Sam Kraybill from the game.
“That’s the nature of baseball. You hit the liners right at the defense and they catch them or you hit the little bleeders that drop in,” Holt said. “They had quite a few off the end of the bat shots, but give them credit. They scored four runs that inning and I don’t know if they really scored the ball up the whole inning.”
The Bombers scored two more off relief pitcher Nick Hollman in the fifth, though both runs were unearned.
With SHS trailing 8-3 heading to the seventh, the Pioneers finally took advantage of mistakes by the Midwest City pitching staff. The Bombers issued four walks — two of which came with the bases already loaded — and allowed the first six SHS batters to reach base in the inning.
Michael Higgins led off the rally with a walk and was followed by back-to-back singles by Brooks Zimmerman and Harrison Cornforth. Higgins scored on a bases loaded walk by Carson Teel — who went 2 for 2 with three walks, an RBI and a run scored — and Zimmerman came across on a walk issued to Nate Jolliff. Jon Littell plated Cornforth with a single.
The Pioneers were aided by a Midwest City error on a chopper in front of the plate by Taylor Throne. While Teel was forced out at home, Throne reached first when the catcher threw the ball over the first baseman — which allowed Jolliff to score SHS’ final run.
Stillwater will have a tough time trying to avoid going winless in its home tournament. The Pioneers will cap the three-day event by facing No. 7 Tulsa Union at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“This is a tough tournament with good competition and if you don’t play well you are going to lose — it doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Holt said. “Now we jump up and play a top five team that is talented and well-coached. We’ve got our backs against the wall and need to go up here, forget about the first two days and be ready (Saturday), otherwise we’re going to get embarrassed.”