By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater scratched across two runs early and Carson Teel went 5 2/3 innings before relinquishing a hit to No. 3 Broken Arrow to lead the ninth-ranked Pioneers to a 3-2 win over the Tigers.
“This was a great high school baseball game between two really good teams,” SHS coach Tony Holt said. “... It was a great, well-pitched game, well-played game on both sides. We did a tremendous job in a tough situation at the end. For a great high school baseball game, we got a fitting way to end.”
In a classic showdown between Stillwater’s left-handed ace and the Tigers’ Trey Cobb, who is committed to play for Oklahoma State, the game came down to the wire with SHS saving its best play for last.
With runners on second and third with one out in the top of the seventh, Broken Arrow’s batter flew out to shallow center fielder and sent the speedy pinch runner home. Stillwater’s Nate Jolliff set up under the flyball and fired home to catcher Michael Higgins, who caught the ball and made the tag all in the same motion for the final out of the game.
“He made a great throw and I just barely on the tag on him. It was a bang-bang play with a great throw by Jolliff,” said Higgins, who looked down at his glove after the play to make sure he had the ball. “I put my hand in the glove and didn’t feel a ball because it wasn’t where it was supposed to be. So I didn’t think I had it, so I looked down and the ball was just bouncing in my glove — you could have flicked it off of there.”
The play clinched the win for Teel, who was replaced on the mound for the final batter, and made his 6 1/3 innings, six-strikeout performance hold up.
“He really got after it on the mound and was really hitting his spots all day,” Higgins said of Teel’s performance. “He wanted it so bad and he was just so awesome tonight.”
The Pioneers put the pressure on the top 3 team in 6A early with runs in the second and third innings.
Will Pendleton reached on a throwing error by the third baseman and moved around to third on a passed ball and grounder by Gage Hines. With two outs in the inning, Tyler Burnett ripped a line drive through the right side of the infield to plate Pendleton.
The Pioneers scored another run in the third thanks to a leadoff single by Harrison Cornforth. After back-to-back successful sacrifice bunts by Carson Teel and Nate Jolliff, Cornforth was brought home on a single through the left side of the infield by Jon Littell.
Teel was rolling along, with no hits and only one runner — a hit batsman — through the first five innings.
Things got a little shaky in the sixth, however.
Cornforth caught a line drive to his right that looked destined to found the outfield, but two batters later a chopper back up the middle bounced just over a leaping Teel — which gave more than enough time for Broken Arrow’s speedy leadoff hitter to reach safely on an infield single to end the bid for a no-hitter.
“I wanted it so bad. When I found out I had it in about the third or fourth inning, I went out there in the sixth and the ball that went up the middle just over my head I was thinking, ‘Please somebody make a play,’” Teel said. “But it didn’t happen. I just had to deal with it and move on and luckily we got out of the inning giving up just one run.”
The Tigers got a double from the next batter to put runners on second and third with two outs, which set up another infield single to allow a runner to score. With runners on the corner, Teel picked off the base runner at first to end the B.A. rally.
Stillwater got the run back in the bottom of the frame thanks to the bottom half of the order. Tyler Burnett picked up a single and advanced to second on a fielder’s choice before a wild pitch moved him to third. With two outs, Cornforth hit a single back up the middle to plate Burnett.
“I was just trying to do my job and get the ball in play,” Burnett said of getting on base in the sixth. “Had some good situations happen to where I could get to third and then brought in on a really good hit by Harrison.”
It proved to be an important addition for SHS with Broken Arrow manufacturing another run in the top of the seventh. With runners on second and third with just one out in the inning, Holt turned to Sam Kraybill to close out the contest.
Kraybill closed the game facing just one batter — thanks to Jolliff’s throw to the plate.
The Pioneers will face a tougher test next week, however. Stillwater will take on top-ranked and undefeated Owasso with a road game Monday and home contest Tuesday with both games scheduled for 6 p.m. starts.