OWASSO – As Stillwater recorded its final out of the season, Ryan Vilade's eyes filled with tears.
The senior looked on from the dugout as Stillwater’s season came to an end in a 6-0 loss to Owasso in the Class 6A Region 7 championship at Stigall Field on Friday night.
“You know, it stinks,” Vilade said. “We played really well this year, and to lose the last game really stinks.”
Although Vilade’s next move is likely to the pro ranks, he is only worried about the lifelong friends he has made since coming to Stillwater late last summer.
“What’s going through my mind right now is I have to leave these guys,” Vilade said. “They’re my brothers and my family, and they helped me get through this year a lot easier. I don’t want to leave them.”
The game was scoreless through four innings, with neither team showing signs of weakness. However, pitcher Cole Miller slowly began showing signs of exhaustion.
Miller hit two of three batters to start the fifth inning, and Connor Beichler got Owasso on the board with a two-run double down the left-field line to put the Pioneers in a two-run hole.
Moments later, Nate Wohlgemuth recorded an RBI double of his own, extending the Rams’ lead to 3-0.
Wohlgemuth also hurt Stillwater on the mound.
The freshman struck out 10 Pioneer batters, allowing only three hits.
Although Wohlgemuth played a key role in Stillwater’s demise, coach Jimmy Harris had nothing but praise for him.
“We couldn’t get it together like we wanted to, and their pitcher is really good,” Harris said. “He’s probably going to be one of the better pitchers in the state, if not the country. He’s a good one.”
Wohlgemuth would add another RBI double in the seventh, and C.D. White and Zach Jaccarino followed up with a pair of singles to score two more runs, bringing the score to 6-0.
Despite the separation Owasso created late in the game, Vilade said the team remained confident in its ability to make a comeback.
“Whenever they scored three, we thought we’d score four,” Vilade said. “Whenever they got six, we thought we’d get seven. That’s the mentality we had, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out.”
Once the game was final and Stillwater’s season officially came to an end, there was an outburst of emotions from the Pioneers.
Tears flowed as Harris gathered all the seniors and gave each of them a farewell, telling them how much he loved them, and the underclassmen followed suit.
“The seniors mean so much to this program,” Harris said. “When you’re a family the way we are and you have to say goodbye, it hurts. We’re going to miss them, and they’re always going to be a part of us.”
Stillwater baseball graduates 12 players this year, and though their time in the blue and gold is over, Harris said they set an example of how to be successful for the underclassmen.
“If you look at my young guys, their hearts are broken,” Harris said. “Their hearts are broken for those seniors because they love those guys. Our juniors heard the roar of Owasso in the background, and we want to be a part of that. That’s what we want to do next year. We’re a hardworking program, and I think our young guys learned a lot, and they’ll do well.”
In the first game, the Pioneers recorded back-to-back four-run innings in the fifth and sixth on the way to a 12-4 win against Bixby
The win avenged a 3-2 loss to the Spartans on Thursday.
Reece Thompson had a lot to do with Stillwater’s success, recording eight RBIs and was responsible for four of the Pioneers’ nine hits, including a grand slam.
“I knew as soon as the pitcher missed the first ball, he was going to throw me a fastball,” Thompson said of the grand slam. “It sat on it, and it worked out well.”
The senior started the scoring frenzy in the fifth, securing his second double of the game with bases loaded to extend Stillwater’s lead to 7-4.
Two batters later, Caleb Case singled to center field to bring home pinch runner Caden Pogue for the Pioneers’ eighth run.
Thompson’s grand slam tacked on four more runs to put the game out of reach in the sixth.
Bixby picked up where it left off in the first meeting, tallying four of its six hits, including a two-RBI triple to take a 3-0 lead in the second.
However, the Pioneers answered in the bottom half with three runs of their own.
Thompson got things started with a double down the left-field line, and after stealing third on a wild pitch, Case brought him home to cut the lead to 3-1.
Dylan Gardner followed that up with a double to left field to score Jarod Dondlinger and Brian Skillman, tying the game at three.
Stillwater finished the season with a 26-10 record.