Stillwater News Press

April 5, 2014

Pioneers push past Yukon

By Derek Brown
Stillwater News Press

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Stillwater Pioneers believed that if they put their minds to it, they could be the victors. Now they know that.

Stillwater hosted Yukon for a non-conference matchup on Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers pushed their winning streak up to 14 games after a 4-3 victory.

“I think that’s two state tournament teams playing right there. We could definetely see these guys down the road and we built this game up like that. These are one of those games and we had a little bit more bounce in our step,” Stillwater coach Jimmy Harris said.

Stillwater’s Sam Kraybill tossed six complete innings and allowed three runs and eight hits. The Pioneer defense helped Kraybill stay on track. Nick Hollman entered in the seventh inning to pick up the save.

“I didn’t have my greatest stuff miles per hours wise but I was able to locate it and my defense helped me out bigtime this game,” Kraybill said. “Knowing that I have every position (on defense) that I can trust is huge confidence. I can throw it just wherever I want.”

The Pioneers (15-1) stressed the importance of playing the Millers, who dropped to 13-3 after the loss.

“I feel like we’re the best team in the state. We came into this game confident,” Stillwater senior Tyler Burnett said.

Burnett may have only gotten one hit on two appearances at the plate but he made it count. Burnett had Brooks Zimmerman and Will Fowler at second and third base with one out in the bottom of the second inning. Burnett did not need to sacrifice anything as he sailed a triple to left field. Zimmerman and Fowler scored to take a 2-0 lead.

“It was a fastball right over the plate and I just swung hard,” Zimmerman said. “I thought both of our runners could score because the players on our team can run really well. I was thinking they were going to score and I was going to try and advance to second on the throw. I didn’t expect the ball to get past him though.”

Burnett then was hit in by Michael Higgins who hit a sacrifice to second to extend the lead to 3-0.

The Millers cut into the lead as they responded with two runs in the top of the third inning.

SHS also answered the call as TJ Black earned a single to centerfield. Black was moved to second and then was sent to third after a balk. Black raced home when Yukon’s pitcher Tyler Benge sent a pitch behind his catcher. Stillwater led 4-2 after the third.

Miller Garrett Benge sent the ball over the fence for a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning to cut it to 4-3.

Stillwater put in Hollman in the seventh and with one out and the bases loaded the Millers were looking to tie it up or go ahead. Harris went to the mound and talked to the infield at that point.

Hollman forced Joe Lytle to ground out to Stillwater shortstop Harrison Cornforth who fielded the ball cleanly and was able to roll a double-play to end the game and squash Yukon’s hopes of rallying.

“They told me ‘coach Nick’s fixing to throw a ground ball and we’re going to be out of this.’ Holy moly, sure enough they throw it and we ran it perfectly and get it done. I’m very very proud of the way they did that,” Harris said. “I think that’s what bigtime teams and championship teams do is they’re able to make plays like that.”

Stillwater is now 2-1 in games decided by one run.

“That’s the mark of a championship team, is if you can win close games because you’re not going to run through the regional tournament or the state tournament and blow people out. Nobody does that. You’re going to have to win close games,” Harris said.

The Pioneers’ win at home moved their record to 3-0 at Couch Park. Stillwater will return home against Sapulpa at 6 p.m. Monday for the first of a home-and-home against district opponent.