By Derek Brown
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater and Norman were two teams wanting a district victory. The cycle of the game proved it.
The Pioneers’ Jon Littell stepped up to the plate with two outs and Ryan Wieligman on third base with the game tied in the bottom of the seventh inning. Littell hit the ball just inside of third base and brought in the game-winning run for a 5-4 victory.
“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit. My teammates did a great job to get into position to score there. I just saw a good pitch and put a good swing on it,” Littell said. “I knew it was fair and inside the line. That’s a big time win. (Norman) is a good team.”
Littell was 1 for 4 when he stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the seventh.
“(Littell) was so frustrated with himself. In the dugout I was trying to make sure he was OK. He said ‘coach it’s not OK,’” Stillwater coach Jimmy Harris said. “I know he feels really good about himself. For a guy that wants to get up there and do that it speaks volumes about what kind of guy he is.”
Stillwater moved to (22-1, 9-0) on the season. This was the Pioneers’ 21st victory in a row.
Carson Teel started on the mound for the Pioneers. Teel accounted for four strikeouts and gave up seven hits and four runs. The lefty had to find strength towards the end of the game — which he did and went seven innings for the win.
“You’re not going to have your best stuff everyday. That’s what makes this game so humbling,” Harris said. “You just never know. (Teel) fought back. I was really proud of the way that he did that right there.”
Norman’s P.J. Gransted went down in the third inning and did not return due to a rolled ankle. The Tigers inserted Breaden Armstrong and then Mo Chaudhry took over in the fifth and went the rest of the way.
The first inning was scoreless but Stillwater got on the scoreboard in the second inning with Tyler Burnett crossing the plate. Burnett walked and then was hit to third by Harrison Cornforth. Burnett sprinted home after Gransted tossed a wild pitch for a 1-0 Pioneer lead.
During the third inning, Gransted attempted to field a ball at his feet. When he did Gransted came away injured and the Tigers put Breaden Armstrong on the mound.
The fourth inning is where Norman took the lead on a four-run inning. The Tigers had a walk, batter hit by pitch, two singles and a double. Hunter Meister, Blake Ruggs, Dax Marley and Kolin Marley scored to take the Tigers’ first lead of the game.
The top of the fourth ended when Paul Reed hit the ball to Stillwater’s pitcher Teel who threw to Michael Higgins. The Pioneer catcher picked up an out on a run-down and followed that up with a second run-down at third base.
Stillwater cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning when Ryan Hoecker crossed the plate on a Norman error.
Stillwater kept its offense going and tied the game after five innings. Tanner Swick, base runner for Higgins, stole third and made his way home on a Norman error. Hoecker was sent home on a sacrifice hit by Teel to make it a new game after five innings tied 4-4.
The Pioneers prevailed on the timely hit by Littell.
Stillwater and Norman will meet in Norman at 6 p.m. Tuesday to finish the home-and-home.
“Norman played well. Their pitchers kept us off balance and made some plays when they needed to make some plays,” Harris said. “We’re fighters and the boys are winners.”
Stillwater moved to 4-1 in games decided by one-run games.
“Anytime you can get a district win it’s always big. You have to tip your hat to (Norman) they played a really good game. We’re lucky to get out of here with a win,” Littell said.