By Nick Hampton
FORT GIBSON – Pitching was the name of the game Tuesday night at Carr-Odell Tigers Park as the Fort Gibson Tigers got a great relief performance and a superb starting job in sweeping the Keys Cougars by scores of 17-7 and 10-0.
The opening game began like it might be a short one for the Tigers as starter Colton Dorris issued a pair of first-inning walks to start things off and the Cougars paired those with two hits to score three times. Keys added four more in the second inning, three of them on a shot over the left field wall by Tyler Blankenship to make it 7-0.
But that would be it for the Cougars as Fort Gibson came roaring back, starting in the third inning on a two-run home run by Zack Drain who finished the game going 3-for-4 with four RBIs.
The fourth inning brought more bat power for the Tigers as they put together four hits. But the big play came with two outs as Tyler Stach struck out in what should have ended the inning. But the ball popped loose from Cougars’ catcher Rylan Davenport, and as Stach ran to first, Davenport threw it away allowing two runs to score and cutting Keys’ lead to 7-5.
The Tigers broke the game open with a nine-run fourth, helped out by another two-run error by Davenport.
Meanwhile, Tiger relief pitcher Josh Nunez came in and shut the Cougars down with a combination of off-speed and breaking pitches, allowing just three hits in two innings of work to record his first victory of the season.
“My two seam fastball and curve were really keeping them off balance,” said Nunez.
In a season that’s been short on highlights so far for the Tigers, coach Randy Smith was certainly pleased with his team’s comeback
“I thought when they scored those seven early runs, ‘here we go again’” Smith said. “But Drain’s homer really seemed to ignite us and got everyone into the hitting mode. We’ve struggled a lot so far this season in not being able to come back in games like this, so this was a nice win.”
Fort Gibson picked up where it left off in the second game as Markie Carman had a two-run double and Bubba Stone also drove in a run to stake the Tigers to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. On the mound, right hander Eric Hudson mowed down the Cougars as he tossed a two hit shutout while striking out eight, his best performance of the season so far, as he strives to recover from an off-season shoulder injury
“Eric threw real well tonight,” said Smith. “He showed a little more speed tonight and that, coupled with his slider, are really a tough combination when he’s on.”
The Tigers (7-12) added a run in the third inning and busted the game open with four runs in the fourth thanks in part to a two-RBI double by Triston Johnson and a run scoring triple by Carman. Johnson also came in as the Tiger closer in the fifth inning and Fort Gibson got a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to end the game.
Hitting heroes were plentiful for the Tigers on the night. In addition to Drain’s first game performance, Stone was 4-for-6 on the night with four RBIs, Brayden Williams was 4-for-7 with an RBI, and Boo Seward was also 4-for-7 with three RBIs for the two games.
Keys was led by Blankenship and Austin Tarver who were 2-for-4 on the night.