, Muskogee, OK

April 23, 2013

Hot at the right time: Fort Gibson wins fourth straight in final tuneup for playoffs

By Nick Hampton
Phoenix Correspondent

— FORT GIBSON – They say timing is everything. And if that’s so, then the Fort Gibson Tigers should be in good shape.

Winning their fourth game in a row and playing errorless ball, the Tigers (12-14) knocked off the Glenpool Warriors 6-1 Monday at Carr-O’Dell Tiger Park in a tune up game before Thursday’s district playoff action.

“Our kids have been playing pretty well,” said Tigers’ coach Randy Smith. “We’re playing the best we’ve played all season long. Our defense and pitching were both sharp and we got some good hitting with two outs in a couple of situations.”

Tigers’ ace Eric Hudson, one of just two seniors on the Fort Gibson roster, started the game and gave up the only Glenpool run in an unlucky turn of events. With two outs, Hudson got Nolan McCutcheon to swing at strike three on a pitch low and away. Unfortunately, it was too low and away and went to the backstop, allowing McCutcheon to scramble to first. A walk to Kyle Price moved McCutcheon to second and he scored on a base hit by E.J. Bierman.

Resting arms for the playoffs, Smith brought in the only other Tigers’ senior, Tyler Stach after two innings and Fort Gibson got Stach all the help he would need in the bottom of the third.

Josh Nunez led things off for the Tigers with a single and was sacrificed to second. He moved to third on a fielder’s choice and scored on a single by Brayden Williams. A bloop single to right by Bubba Stone scored the second Tigers’ run of the inning and courtesy runner Connor Hardin scored later on a wild pitch to put the Tigers on top 3-1.

Fort Gibson got two more in the fifth inning as Glenpool committed three straight errors to load the bases. A force out at the plate staved off one run. But Will Rumley came through with an RBI single for the Tigers and Nunez was hit by a pitch to force in another run. Fort Gibson got a run in the sixth inning for the final margin.

Four Tiger pitchers gave up just three hits on the night. Hudson, who’s been battling back from an off season injury, feels like he’s getting stronger at just the right time.

“I still have to run and ice it after each start and it hurts a little the next day, but it’s usually all right after a day off,” said the lanky right hander. “My stamina is getting better. I’ve had to pitch six innings before so I think I can go the distance in a game if needed.”

Stone was hitting hero for the Tigers on the night, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

The Tigers now get ready to travel to Wagoner Thursday for the district playoffs. Fort Gibson has beaten the Bulldogs twice this season, but Smith notes that doesn’t mean much.

“I don’t think it matters,” said Smith. “They’re kind of like us-when they’re on, they’re on and that’s kind of the way we’ve been. We’ve got such a young team that some of them are still asking who we play next because they’ve never experienced the playoffs before.”

The teams will play two games  beginning 4 p.m. and, if a third game is needed, will play again at 4 p.m. Friday.