MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

April 28, 2012

Fort Gibson growls: Tigers advance to regionals with seventh-inning rally

— FORT GIBSON – The Fort Gibson Tigers were staring at another one-run loss and the end to their 2012 season with one at-bat left.

Having dropped nine such losses this year, the Tigers (16-14) scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to beat Muldrow 3-2 in a winner-take-all contest and claim the Class 4A district title on Friday at Carr-O’Dell Tiger Park.

“We won one by one instead of losing one by one,” said Fort Gibson coach Randy Smith. “We’ve lost nine one-run ball games this year but we were never out.”

The rally began with Lane Dortch, who was 0-for-3 entering in what could have been his final at bat in a Tigers’ uniform with Fort Gibson trailing 2-1. Dortch made certain his prep career would go one more inning when he blasted a 1-0 fastball from Bulldogs’ pitcher Mike Victory (3-3) over the fence in right-center to tie the game at 2-2.

“Coach always emphasizes on me to keep my shoulder in,” Dortch said. “I was kinda pulling off my other at bats but I stayed in on that one.”

Following Dortch’s blast, Brandon Purdy ripped the first pitch he saw past third baseman Claw Cowett for a double. Muldrow (20-15) intentionally walked Ned Adair, who had two of the Tigers’ four hits up to that point, and Kevin Cook followed by sending a 1-0 fastball to the wall in right, bringing home Purdy with the winning run and starting a dog pile at first with Cook at the bottom.

“We weren’t relaxing, pressing the whole game, trying to do too much,” Cook said. “This feels amazing.”

The beneficiary of the rally was Chase Randolph who evened his record at 2-2 on the season. The diminutive left-hander threw 71 pitches, 46 for strikes, in his complete-game win without surrendering an earned run and recorded seven strikeouts.

“My change-up was working most of the game and my curveball came in late,” Randolph said. “The fourth inning when everyone got down on themselves, I had to regain my composure and pump up the team to get us going. And that’s what we did.”

The fourth inning is when Muldrow took the lead, scoring twice without a hit. The first run came home on a safety squeeze by Cason Sparkman which scored Avery Short who had reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to third on a throwing error. The second run was plated when Victory, who reached on the fielder’s choice that caused the error, came home on a passed ball.

Up to that point, Randolph had kept the Bulldogs at bay, scattering four hits and stranding four runners in scoring position while preserving a 1-0 lead. The Tigers scored their run in the second inning after Bubba Stone had reached safely and advanced to second on an error and third on a wild pitch, coming home on a grounder to second by Tyler Warren.

“Chase did a tremendous job,” Smith said. “He’s a competitor who has already signed up for the Army. He’s never gone more than three innings for us and he told me ‘Coach, I want to go as far as I can.’”

As far as Randolph can go has one more level. The Tigers will find out who their first-round regional opponent will be when the bracket is released on Monday.

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