Stillwater News Press

Sports

April 12, 2012

Stillwater baseball splits in home tournament

STILLWATER, Okla. — The home runs were flying at Couch Park on Thursday for the Stillwater Pioneers.

Unfortunately, Stillwater’s five home runs on the day were only good enough for a split of its two games in the Stillwater Invitational — a 12-9 win over Mustang and a 9-8 loss to Tulsa Union.

“Personally, I don’t think we played well all day long. We were able to hold on in the first game, but I don’t think we played particularly well,” SHS coach Tony Holt said. “... Then we didn’t do anything real well in that game against Union. We were just fortunate to even be in it at the end.”

In the contest against Mustang, it was senior center fielder Corey Hassel getting the Pioneers off to a hot start.

Hassel, who has signed to play baseball at Oklahoma State next year, led off the bottom of the first with a first-pitch home run. He then followed it up with a first-pitch, three-run home run in the bottom of the second as part of SHS’ four-run inning.

“Corey coming up and getting two home runs in his first two at-bats was huge,” Holt said.

Mustang and Stillwater would trade rallies in the fourth and fifth inning, with both teams combining for five runs each. The Pioneers would get four in the fourth with Ryder Jones connecting for a three-run double and Jerame Littell sacrificing Jones home. In the fifth, they would get a solo home run from No. 7 hitter Taylor Throne.

“Taylor has been pretty solid for us all year. I don’t know of a team that has a seven hole hitter like him,” Holt said. “... Obviously we are very fortunate to have a seven hole hitter like him. It’s just real nice when you are filling out the lineup card and you have a Jon Littell at the six hole and Taylor Throne at seven. That just speaks highly of the lineup you’ve got.”

Jon Littell came up with a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth to score Jones and Luke Spencer to give the Pioneers some more breathing room — which would come in handy with Mustang attempting to rally, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh.

In Stillwater’s second game, it was just another case of not scoring enough in a late rally to pull out a win.

As was the case in Stillwater’s district loss to Bixby on Tuesday, the Pioneers rallied late to tie the game, only to have Union score the game-winner in the next half inning.

On Thursday, it was Stillwater clawing back from a 8-5 deficit heading into the final frame — with SHS playing as the visiting team. With two outs and two on, Jon Littell connected for a three-run home run on the first pitch he saw to tie the game.

“I was looking for a fastball and was just hoping to get something good because living right there,” said Jon Littell, who finished the day going 4-for-8 with a home run, two runs scored and five runs batted in. “I just wanted to put a good swing on it and it felt good off the bat.”

While the offense came in spurts for SHS, the Pioneers had the same problem with their defense being suspect at times.

Stillwater committed four errors against Union — with only five of the nine runs being earned due to that fact.

It was miscues in the bottom of the sixth that gave Union a pair of insurance runs to move ahead by three runs heading into the final frame.

With two runners on and two outs, a Union batter popped up to the pitcher’s mound. With nobody calling off Nick Hollman, the Stillwater relief pitcher stumbled backwards onto the mound and had the ball hit off his glove to allow both runners to score.

Then in the bottom of the seventh, with a runner on third and one out, Hollman threw a wild pitch on a swing strikeout to allow the winning run to come home for Union.

“We’re just not doing the little things right, right now, that we need to be doing to be a championship ball club,” Jon Littell said. “We need to fix those little things and I think everything else will be OK.”

Hassel finished the day going 3-for-6 with two home runs, four runs scored and four RBIs. Jones went 2-for-5 with a home run, four runs and five runs batted in.

The Pioneers will play Maize, Kan., at 3 p.m. Friday — which will not factor into the pool play standings. With Stillwater losing out on playing its first game of the tournament, the Pioneers stand at 1-1 and will most likely miss out on the championship game scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday.

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