By Jimmy Stinson
TAHLEQUAH — It was a matter of the Jay Bulldogs pitcher and hitters being better than those of the Hilldale Hornets on Thursday night at the Tahlequah Tigers Baseball Classic.
The Hornets' offense was a combined 4-for-23 in the game, while the Bulldogs, 20-6 and ranked 9th in the latest Okrankings.com Class 4A poll, registered six hits and received the benefit of nine walks to take the victory, 5-3.
“Frustrating, because we had chances,” said Hilldale coach Darren Riddle. “They’ve got a good team, they swing the bat well.”
Hilldale, 15-9 and ranked 17th, started the scoring in the first inning when Colby Mullens was hit by a pitch and moved to second on a walk drawn by Hunter Harrison. Mullens scored on a bloop single to left field by Bailey Puckett. Jay answered in the bottom of the first with two runs, both unearned. Hornets’ starting pitcher Devin Riede enticed two quick outs but then walked the bases loaded. Jay’s Garrett Mack singled to drive in Cory Steifel and J.J. Meeker for the 2-1 lead.
The Bulldogs added another run in the third inning when Meeker, as the leadoff batter, tripled to right field. Riede enticed Bryce Rutherford to ground to second but the play resulted in Meeker coming home to score.
Jay plated two more runs in the fifth. Riede recorded two quick outs, but a double by Rutherford and a walk to Mack set up Lane Graham, who plated them on a double to right field. A single by Brett Pritchett would have scored Graham, but the throw from centerfielder Miles Jackson to Isaac Isham at home cut down the runner trying to score.
The Hornets made it a close game, scoring two runs in the sixth inning. Scott Rodden drew a walk and Isham singled. Derek Altman doubled and collected two RBIs when he hit a towering shot over the head of the Jay right fielder.
“He threw me an outside pitch and I went with it. I knew I had to step up,” said Altman.
Riede was tagged for the loss for Hilldale, going four and two thirds, allowing five runs, five hits, three walks and four strikeouts. Steifel was the winner for Jay going six innings while giving up only four hits and striking out six.
Hilldale returns to action today at Tahlequah facing Sallisaw at 10 a.m. and Cleveland at 4:15.
In an earlier game here, the Checotah Wildcats fell to Sallisaw Central 11-0.