, Muskogee, OK

April 12, 2014

Checotah wallops Wagoner

By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer

— WAGONER – Errors, both those that appear in a boxscore and those that don’t, can bury a team.

That's what the Wagoner Bulldogs found out on Friday in a 13-2 run-rule loss to the Checotah Bulldogs at Willis Hudlin Field.

“We played Metro Christian Monday and that game was stopped because of the rain tied 4-4,” said Wagoner coach Larry Milligan. “Then we beat Miami (Thursday) 8-7 in nine innings. I just think that we were not mentally here (Friday).”

It started in the top of the first when the Wildcats (15-6) sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six times. The Bulldogs (11-6) had a chance to get out of the inning with only three runs against them but mistakes extended the inning.

With Checotah leading 1-0 with one out and runners on second and third, the Wildcats’ Andrew Sands sent a chopper to Roman Rodriguez at third who tried to tag Wyatt Hatridge. When Rodriguez missed the tag, his throw arrived late at first trying to get Sands, leaving the bases loaded.

After Hunter Collins drove a single to left center to score Hatridge to making the score 2-0, another mistake, this one of the physical variety, occurred. Still with the bases loaded, Mark Miles sent a ground ball to Rodriguez who fired home. When Wagoner catcher Cody Milligan dropped the throw, allowing Caleb Knight to score the third run of the inning.

Jimmy Eddy capped off the scoring when, with two outs, he ripped a single to deep right center, clearing the bases and giving the Wildcats a 6-0 lead.

“It was real big to come out and jump on them like that,” said Knight, who finished the game 2-for-2 with three runs scored and one run batted in. “It set the whole attitude for the game, the way we think about it. It also inspires everyone else to come out and hit the ball.”

With a six-run lead, Jack Christian took the mound and made sure the Bulldogs did not return the favor. Christian (6-1) retired the side in order in the first with two strikeouts, and surrendered an infield single in the second inning, keeping the Wildcats lead at 6-0.

“I commanded the fastball early,” Christian said. “Once I commanded my fastball, I moved in my off-speed.”

Wagoner got a run in the third on singles by Brett Butler and  Grant Brown and a sacrifice fly by Tyler Milligan. The 6-1 score stayed that way until the fifth inning when more mistakes crept into Wagoner's play.

With two on and one out, Miles drove a single to center that scored Hatridge from second. When Joe Charboneau misplayed the ball, Knight raced around from first to score, making it 8-1. Cody Gilroy followed that with a single that was mishandled by Brown, bringing Miles home to make the score 9-1.

The Wildcats had a chance to end the game in the bottom of the fifth but the Bulldogs scratched out a run on a double by pitcher Preston Whitten (3-1) and a single by Brown to make it a 9-2 game.

“(Our coaching staff) got on them a little bit because I think they let up a little,” said Checotah coach Tom Butler. “They responded real well the next at bat.”

That’s when Checotah added four runs to its total to make the score 13-2, then retired the Bulldogs in order in the bottom of the sixth to end the game.

Christian went the distance for Checotah and allowed just the two runs on five hits while striking out four and walking two. Whitten struck out six and walked two in the loss.

“Jack pitched an outstanding game today,” Butler said. “He's been chomping at the bit to get back on the mound and he had a good outing.”