Stillwater News Press

March 26, 2013

Stillwater High baseball falls to Bishop Kelley

By Nick Snow

STILLWATER, Okla. — The look of frustration on Stillwater High School junior Carson Teel’s face told the entire story.

Stillwater had its chances, putting at least one runner on every inning. But it was the execution side where the Pioneers struggled as they stranded eight runners in the 2-1 district loss to Bishop Kelley Tuesday at Coach Park.

“It was a frustrating day offensively, I don’t think there’s any doubt about it,” Stillwater coach Tony Holt said. “I give their pitcher (Josh Limes) a lot of credit. I think he did a good job keeping us off balance. He got behind in the count several times and was able to make a pitch to get out of it, so give him credit for coming up with some pitches in key situations. It was frustrating for us from the offensive standpoint that I never felt like we squared a whole lot of balls up.”

“It hurts,” Teel said. “We feel like we’re one of the best teams in the state. They’re good, don’t get me wrong. But losing to them, it’s pretty tough on us because we know it’s our fault. Coach Holt can say whatever he wants, but that one’s on us.”

Bishop Kelley’s Max Simpson delivered the deciding blow, ripping a one-out single to left in the top of the seventh to score Josh Hassell in a nip-and-tuck game dominated by pitching.

“You know (Limes) pitched well when they had five errors,” Holt said. “They had five errors behind him and we still only scored one run. ... He did a good job of pitching and I thought their team played well. They just got a couple more timely hits than we had.”

Even in the bottom of the seventh, Stillwater (8-5, 4-1 in district) threatened to steal victory from the jaws of defeat by putting winning run on second base. But after making three of Bishop Kelley’s five errors Riley Smith hauled in Jon Littell’s high chopper and fired to first, handing the Pioneers their first district loss.

“If you told me before the game that we were down one and had guys at second and third with Jon Littell up, I’ll take that 100 percent of the time,” Holt said. “He’s a great player and a great kid. He’s going to have more success in that situation than failure. It just turned out that the kid made a good pitch on him and got him out.”

Teel (2-2) went all seven innings, allowing two runs — one earned — while scattering four hits. He also struck out nine, but struggled to get much offensive support from Stillwater’s bats.

“It’s tough, but I was out there with them,” Teel said. “You have to fight to the end. You have to do what you have to do to win and we just came up a little short.”

Bishop Kelley (6-7, 2-3 in district) struck first and Sean Votaw reached on an error before taking third on Smith’s single. Votaw then scored on a wild pitch, giving the Comets a 1-0 lead after one and a half innings.

That lead didn’t last long as the Pioneers came back with an answer immediately.

Senior Will Pendleton led off the bottom of the second with a single before stealing second. Junior Gage Hines then followed with a bloop single before a Bishop Kelley error allowed Pendleton to score, tying the game at 1-1 after two innings.

From there Teel took control of the game, retiring 12 straight before Hassell’s single to lead off the top of the seventh.

“In warmups my arm felt really good and everything was working for me,” Teel said. “Coach trusted me with everything I had and I trusted him with his pitch calls, so I just went out there and threw.”

It wasn’t just Teel that dominated Bishop Kelley’s pitchers. A pair of diving catches by junior Kelby Wickline and another running catch by senior Nate Jolliff kept the Comets off the basepaths and gave Stillwater hope that eventually it’s offense would come around.

“Carson gave us a great start and great performance like he always does,” Holt said. “I don’t have any complaints there. They got a guy on, bunted him over and then got a base hit to take the lead. ... They hadn’t touched him before that. They hadn’t hit a ball hard on him all day either — maybe one — but that’s about it.”

Seemingly in a funk where nothing could phase him, Hassell’s single back through the box shook Teel out of his phase before Votaw sacrifice Hassell over, setting the table for Simpson.

Simpson’s soft liner bounced just beyond the infield dirt, allowing Hassell to score. It looked like Bishop Kelley might add to the lead but a double play helped Teel escape without any further damage.

In the bottom of the seventh, T.J. Black started the Stillwater rally by reaching on an error before Jolliff walked. Teel then hit a sharp grounder to first but was called out on a close play at first for Stillwater’s second out before Littell’s bouncer ended the game.

With the loss the Pioneers will try to right the ship as they head into the Gladys Winters Tournament in Enid beginning Thursday.

“We know that we could easily win this tournament or we could easily lose it,” Teel said. “You just have to go in and play your game and see what happens. I felt good going out there and a lot of the guys said it felt good to get back out on the field but we can’t have any excuses. We just have to play better next time.”