By Nick Snow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
How can a team be so offensively stout one game and do virtually nothing the next?
That’s the question that will likely keep Stillwater High School baseball coach Tony Holt up at night following a split in the first day of the Class 6A regional Friday at Couch Park.
Nearly two hours after the Pioneers belted 16 hits and seven doubles to beat Enid 19-5, all of those runs vanished as Stillwater’s offense struggled against Bishop Kelley in a 2-0 loss.
“It’s like I told you after the first game, that means nothing when you start the second game,” Holt said. “You don’t save any of those up, you don’t get to put any of them in the bank. You have to turn around and play again. It’s all pretty and all well and good when you score 19 runs, but the reality is you have to do it again.”
The Pioneers (18-13) had the hits, outhitting the Comets 6-5. But it was the timing of those hits that made the difference in a classic pitchers’ duel between Stillwater’s Carson Teel and the Bishop Kelley duo of Chris Luschen and Max Simpson.
“We didn’t do anything offensively,” Holt said. “We had some chances. We outhit them 6-5, but the biggest thing is when you get hits. ... Anybody can hit with no pressure on them, but the biggest difference in that game is that we didn’t get two-strike and two-out hits and they did.”
Perhaps the biggest blow came from a surprising source — Bishop Kelley’s No. 9 hitter Riley Smith.
Smith led off the bottom of the third with a triple before Cory Bright walked. Charlie Wrona then singled home Smith for the game’s first run. It looked like Teel (8-4) might get out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts, but John Bell tacked on another run with a single back through the box to give the Comets a 2-0 lead.
“They got that leadoff triple and that really got them going,” Holt said. “Wrona has been killing the ball. He’s a great hitter and great ballplayer, and he came up with a big hit for them. Really that was the only one they needed.”
Stillwater threatened to answer in the top of the fourth as Nate Jolliff singled and Jon Littell walked, but Luschen got out of the jam with a double play and a weak groundout to second to end the inning.
“In (Taylor) Throne’s defense, that ball was hit pretty well,” Holt said. “It was just hit right at him. We squared up a few balls, but we just hit them right at them. ... We had all kinds of chances, but we just couldn’t come up with the big hit and that’s probably what’s the most frustrating and disappointing.”
It looked like Tyler Burnett might ease Holt’s frustration, leading off the fifth with a double before Harrison Cornforth’s bunt moved Burnett to third. But that’s where he stayed as an infield fly and a groundout preserved the win for Luschen.
Even with Simpson in relief of Luschen things didn’t get much better for the Pioneers. Teel and Jolliff reached on back-to-back singles off Simpson to start the sixth inning. It looked like Jon Littell might tie the game with a deep fly to center, but the Bishop Kelley centerfielder hauled it in, forcing courtesy runner Ryan Wieligman to sprint back to second to avoid getting doubled up. The sidewinding Simpson the wiggled out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts
The Pioneers had one last chance in the top of the seventh when T.J. Black was hit by a pitch with two outs, but Teel couldn’t help himself, hitting a harmless fly to left to end the game.
“We had just as many chances as they did,” Holt said. “There was a lot of things that we did wrong offensively, but you have to give them credit. When they got their opportunities, they took advantage of them and we didn’t.
“Carson threw well enough to win. Their kids certainly threw well enough to win. It just comes down to execution.”
Teel went all six innings, allowing two runs on five hits andtwo walks. He also tied a season high with 11 strikeouts and led the Pioneer offense by going 2-for-4 at the plate.
With the loss Stillwater will play Mustang at 1 p.m. Saturday.