By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater High was the benefactor of more Muskogee miscues Tuesday at Couch Park.
In the second game of a district doubleheader, with the first being held Monday in Muskogee, the Pioneers took advantage of a pair of Rougher errors in the fourth inning to spark a 9-3 victory to remain unbeaten in district action.
“They made some mistakes (Monday) night and they made some mistakes that aided us tonight, but we still put up 12 hits on them,” SHS coach Tony Holt said. “We did some good things. But definitely, the reason we had so many runs was they had some mistakes, which they did last time. That’s the nature of the game.”
Stillwater used some small ball tactics to scratch across its first run in the second inning. Will Pendleton led off the inning with a single and a stolen base. He was plated on an RBI single by Michael Higgins.
But in the fourth inning, the wheels fell off the Muskogee defense and led to a game-deciding six-run inning for the Pioneers.
Stillwater got its second run when a throw by Muskogee third baseman Harris Jones skipped in front of the first baseman trickled up the right field line that allowed Stillwater’s Taylor Throne, who had led off the inning with a double, to score. Pendleton, who advanced all the way to third on the error, was plated by the next SHS batter, Kelby Wickline, who got a ground ball through the right side of the infield which was pulled in to try to prevent the run.
SHS scratched its next run across when Nate Joliff blooped a hit that fell between Tyler Bowden and Luke Smith in right field to score Wickline. Stillwater’s starting pitcher Carson Teel kept the six-run fourth alive by lining a 3-2 pitch over the shortstop to score T.J. Black and Joliff.
The Pioneers (5-2, 4-0) got its sixth run of the inning when Jones committed his second error in the inning. Jones attempted to throw behind Teel, who advanced to second on a single by Jon Littell, and threw the ball into right field to allow Teel to come around.
“Both games we never gave ourselves a chance,” Muskogee coach Jeremy Griffin said. “A lot of credit to Stillwater, they played hard and are a great team, but we never gave ourselves a chance. Just way too many mistakes.”
Another mistake led to Stillwater nearly ending the game in the fifth. A two-base error by Muskogee pitcher Ethan Barton on pickoff attempt of Pendleton in the fifth set up Wickline, who brought Pendleton home on a line drive back up the middle of the pulled in infield. The Roughers gave up a bases-loaded walk to Joliff for Stillwater’s final run of the game.
Jones, who came in after Barton gave up back-to-back hits to open the inning, prevented the mercy rule from going into effect by getting out of a bases-loaded jam with Stillwater just scoring the two runs.
Compounding the mistakes for Muskogee (3-4, 1-3) in the field was the Roughers’ inability to figure out Stillwater’s starting pitcher. The left-handed Teel went five innings and allowed just two base runners — giving up a hit and walk to back-to-back batters in the fourth — while striking out nine Muskogee batters before making way for Kevin Todhunter at the start of the sixth inning.
“He gave up one hit and it was little fisted hit into right field. He was just on,” Holt said. “His two outings since coming out of basketball have both been what we expect out of him. He’s such a good pitcher ... he attacks hitters and he makes them beat him. He’s got good stuff.”
Muskogee was able to rough up Todhunter, stringing together three hits and two walk with the first five hitters in the top of the sixth. Harris made up for his earlier mistakes by hitting a three-run double to score Tracy Hughes, Garrett Brown and Morse, and Todhunter was pulled without recording an out.
Colton Bunney ended the Roughers’ rally by recording a strikeout and inducing an inning-ending double play.
The Roughers attempted to put together another rally in the seventh with Luke Smith leading off the inning with a single and pinch hitter Taylor Duncan reaching on a walk. But just as he did in the inning before, Bunney kept Muskogee at bay by retiring the side in order.
“I’m glad we held them off there. Bunney did a good job of coming in there and shutting it down and stabilizing the game for us,” Holt said.