After losing two games to Enid last week in District 6A-4, the Stillwater Pioneers (5-3) dropped to third place in the district behind Edmond Memorial (8-0) and Broken Arrow (6-2).
The Pioneers started a two-game district series with the Sand Springs Sandites on Monday evening at Couch Park hoping to improve their district standing. Sand Springs entered the game at exactly .500 overall (10-10) and (4-4) in district play.
“Right now, we are playing pretty well,” SHS coach Jimmy Harris said. “We dropped two games at Enid. We won two out of three in the Stillwater-Enid tournament. We beat a really good Westmoore team.
“We got beat 8-7 by probably the best team in the State, Deer Creek, and then we went on to beat Yukon, probably the second best team on that side over there.”
The Pioneers entered the game with a 16-6-1 record after a tie was called in the second game of a double-header with Shiloh Christian School on March 26.
With a south wind gusting up to 35 mph, the advantage favored the hitters in the game at Couch Park.
Stillwater’s southpaw ace, Drew Blake, started for the Pioneers. Sand Springs pushed across two runs in the first inning on two hit batters, a stolen base, a ground ball out and an infield hit.
The Pioneers answered with a run in the bottom of the frame when Jackson Young led off with a one-hop double to the right-center field fence and then advanced to score on ground balls to the right side of the infield by left handers Jackson Holliday and Brennan Thompson.
The Sandites added two runs in the top of the third inning on a fly ball to right field that Henry Hutchens lost in the sun and a two-run home run by Dominic Ornelas.
The Pioneers scored two runs in the bottom of the third. Isaac Szlichta led off with a four-pitch walk and advanced to second on a ground ball by Owen Coil. Holliday singled to center scoring Szlichta and advanced to third on an error by the center fielder. Thompson doubled to score Holliday.
Gage Gundy hit a massive solo home run over the center field fence in the bottom of the fourth to tie to score at 4-4.
Sand Springs added a run in the fifth inning scoring on Hutchens who came on in the fourth inning in relief of Blake.
The Pioneers answered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take their first lead of the game, 7-5. Coil led off with a double down the right field line. Coil advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly from Young. Holliday beat out a slow roller to the shortstop for an infield hit and Thompson drew a walk. Jaden Riley delivered a line drive double to left field, scoring Holliday and Thompson. Riley was thrown out at third trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
Louie Coca came on in relief for the Pioneers with one on and no outs in the top of the sixth. Coca recorded three outs with a ground ball, a strikeout and a fly out to strand the runner. Coca retired the side in order in the seventh inning striking out two batters to record a save and finish the game with the Pioneers winning 7-5.
“We are playing really well right now, and we are doing well,” Harris said. “We came out today with some fight, and we are asking the kids to play with passion, and that is exactly what they did, and I am really proud of them. We made the plays when we needed to and it was a lot of fun.”
Stillwater (17-6-1) travels to Sand Springs (10-11) Tuesday at 6 pm for the second game of the district matchup with the Sandites.