, Muskogee, OK

March 30, 2013

Fix found for Fort: Clutch pitching saves Tigers against Wagoner

By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor

— FORT GIBSON — The fire was out of control. Desperation was creeping in, just ahead of  some ominous clouds to the south.

The rain didn’t make it, but Boo Seward did.

Fort Gibson’s fourth pitcher in a wild Wagoner fifth inning end faced Wyatt Probst,arguably the Bulldogs’ most potent bat, with the bases loaded. Five runs on three hits and five walks had plenty of heat on the sophomore left-hander’s shoulders.

He got Probst, who up to then was 2-for-2 for the game, on a groundout to third baseman Will Rumbley and then escaped a two-on jam in the seventh as the Tigers survived in a 10-9 decision Friday at Carr-O’Dell Tiger Field.

“I knew he could hit. Anyone in that (three-hole) spot is there for a reason,” Seward said. “I thought I’d throw off-speed and hope he dinked one and that’s what happened.”

It gave Tigers coach Randy Smith a moment to breathe easy.

“He’s only thrown two or three innings this year but we had find someone we could stick in there who could throw strikes and Boo got it done,” Smith said. “We had several young guys step up for us when we needed them to.”

One of those was Nick Burt. The sophomore son of former Oktaha coach Chris Burt hit for the first time this season. He was 2-for-4 and drove in three runs,  including one of the four runs in the fifth and beat out an errant throw to first in the sixth to push across an insurance run.

The Tigers (4-8) led 4-1 through three innings as their starting pitcher, Rumbley, was in the groove. He was touched for two runs in the third before giving up two walks and a single to Probst in his first at-bat in the fifth.

Smith felt he had enough.

“That’s about as long as he’s gone. He had a lot of full counts and had worked his pitch count pretty high,” he said.

Smith tried Burt then Tristan Johnson before finding the fix. Wagoner’s Dylan Cantrell had an RBI double and Chancey Scott an RBI single as part of the implosion. Just after Johnson had walked Jerrod Sloan with the bases loaded, Smith handed the ball to Seward, who got the Tigers out of the inning trailing 8-5.

Things settled on one side. But going to the bottom of the inning, Wagoner coach James Henson thought his starter, Wyatt Grooms, had seen enough on the mound. In came Preston Whitten in his first outing this season.

Johnson greeted him with a home run to straightaway center. A walk and infield error later, Burt doubled to the gap in right. That ended the stint for Whitten. In came Ramon Rodriguez, and another infield error set up Bubba Stone’s double to the gap in left for the go-ahead run at 9-8.

“I thought he’d been through their lineup twice and I thought we’d show them something different,” Henson said about replacing Grooms. “Those errors in that inning that didn’t help either. Bottom line, when you score nine runs you should win the game and in the end, I think they wanted it more.”

Rodriguez was saddled with the loss. His team fell to 8-5 coming off a doubleheader sweep at Keys on Thursday.

Johnson finished the day 3-for-3 with a walk for Fort Gibson. which pounded out 10 hits. Stone was 2-for-3 and pushed across a run on a squeeze bunt in the fourth.

Probst had the only multi-hit game for Wagoner, which finished with nine hits. Skyler Davis led off the game with a double and scored the game’s first run.

Both teams return to the diamond on Monday in road games, Fort Gibson at Glenpool and Wagoner at Vinita.