, Muskogee, OK

April 19, 2014

Hornets surge early, hold off Tigers for run-rule victory

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor

— FORT GIBSON — The meltdown that was almost eventually was for Fort Gibson here Friday.

Just after escaping an 11-9 decision against Jay after giving up four runs in the Bulldogs’ final at-bat, the dam broke against their archrival as Hilldale scored 13 runs in the first three innings and managed a run-rule 13-5 win by the skin of their teeth.

“It’s a game that get your confidence up,” said Isaac Isham, noting the rivalry that finds both teams struggling coming in. Hilldale moved to 9-13, Fort Gibson is 9-12.

Isham got the win in his first start of the year, and figured big in the offense including a bases-loaded triple as part of an eight-run third. He lasted three innings, good enough for the win, on a night that wasn’t much to write home for moundsmen.

Hilldale struck for two in the first and three in the third, chasing Tigers starter Tristan Johnson in 1 1/3 innings of work. Derek Altman had a sacrifice fly to score one in the first and Isham came in on an error. In the second, Altman's RBI double and Dakota Holmes' RBI single did the most damage. Isham scored the other run on a wild pitch.

Isham, making his first start on the mound for Hilldale, escaped a two-on threat in the bottom of the second, thanks in part to a streaking, diving catch by Holmes in center field off the bat of Nick Burt. Then it got ugly.

Hilldale’s big third began on a throw home from Tigers third baseman Will Rumbley on a one-out bases-loaded grounder by Cody Walker that sailed over Cole Igert's head, allowing Bailey Puckett to score. An wild pitch by Jace Clinkenbeard made it 8-1. Clinkenbeard then walked Kort Morgan to reload the bases and brought about another pitching change.

With Brandon Downey on the mound, the leak continued. Holmes' bloop fly to right got a run in, then Isham cleared it with a bases-clearing triple to the wall in left and scored on a single to right by Altman, making it 13-1.

Downey remained on and walked the bases loaded, but struck out Matt Bargsten and got Walker on a groundout to end the siege.

Alden Norton  spelled Isham on the mound to start the fourth. He walked his first two but then got the next three outs, a pair on strikes, to escape.

The Tigers tried to extend the game in the fifth, but Wyatt Wolfe came in and got Justin Cates on an infield fly and then with the bases loaded, got Boo Seward to fly out to Holmes to end the game.

“We let up after we had Jay down and it continued into the next game,” Fort Gibson coach Randy Smith said. “We got down in the dumps, no one threw strikes, they have that big inning and that’s it. All you got to do is throw strikes and when you’re not, you’re making it too tough and then your defense falls apart.

“At one point we’re looking at our book and one point we’re at 40 percent strikes and they were at 30 percent at one point and we’re both trying to keep pitchers for games (Saturday). Still we used a lot of arms. If you throw strikes, you don’t get into this situation.

Bubba Stone, whose double in the fifth helped to try and extend it, was the offensive hero against Jay, going 3-for-4 with two doubles.

Hilldale is at Sallisaw at noon today and Fort Gibson goes to Catoosa for a 1 p.m. game.