By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
It was a long day — almost six full hours — to come away with nothing.
Unfortunately for Muskogee, that’s what happened to the Roughers in a heartbreaking pair of one-run losses, 5-4 in nine innings and 8-7 in eight innings against Bartlesville at Roughers Park on Saturday.
James Teague’s solo home run in the eighth capped the sweep, on the heels of Tony Horn’s solo shot in the bottom of the seventh to force the second extra-inning contest.
Muskogee fell to 9-11 but 1-6 in District 6A-3. The Bruins moved to 12-7, 3-2 in the league.
“We battled hard all day,” said MHS coach Jeremy Griffin following a long huddle with his team after the sweep. “We did a lot of good things. But we’ve got to find a way to get over the hump.”
Teague, who will pitch for the Arkansas Razorbacks next spring, held the Roughers to two hits through five innings in the opener, striking out seven. Josh Moore relieved him in the sixth and woke up the Rougher bats. Luke Smith singled in Horn, who drew a leadoff walk, then after moving to second on the late throw to get Horn at home, scored on Harris Jones’ single down the line in left.
Center fielder Garrett Brown gave Andrew Kimrey’s line drive to start the seventh a charge into the gap but the ball was just out of his reach on a dive and rolled to the warning track. Nate Gregg and Isa Vysotsky followed with a pair of run-scoring singles to make it 3-2.
Morse replaced Rougher starting pitcher Ethan Barton after a leadoff single by Mason Orr. Chris Noland’s grounder forced Ott at second but the infield was caught napping as Orr inexplicably sneaked in at second. From there, he scored on Matt Holeting’s single to go back up 4-3.
“I’ll take responsibility for that,” Griffin said. “We’d just got a big out and everyone got distracted. I should have kept that from happening.”
Harris Jones’ leadoff home run in the eighth forced it to the ninth, where Noland’s single scored Tyler Yardley, who drew a two-out walk off Morse after he had retired the first two batters on fly balls.
The Bruins led 3-1 in the second game and was nearing an escape of a bases-loaded, no out jam in the fourth when Morse delivered a pair on a two-strike single to left. Two more runs came in when Jones reached on an infield error and Harris had an RBI single.
That wouldn’t hold. Coyazo’s RBI single in the fifth and Gregg’s pinch-hit double in the sixth put the Roughers down 5-4. That was the last batter Bowden would face.
Horn’s blast to tie it came with one strike at the plate and two outs.
The Roughers left nine on base the second game, seven in the opener and combined to strike out 23 times in the two games.
“We’ve got to make sure every at-bat is a good at bat. We can’t afford to work behind in the count as much as we’re doing,” Griffin said. “Same with our pitching. If they’re working behind we’re throwing hitter’s pitches instead of pitcher’s pitches.”