, Muskogee, OK

April 29, 2014

Reversing a bad dream: Defensive start turned around in Roughers’ victory

By Patrick Kays
Phoenix Correspondent

— Muskogee’s game against Booker T. Washington on Monday had a nightmarish start for the home team as a single from Darian Abram, followed by back-to back home runs from T.J. Scoggins and Jordan Brewer, gave the Hornets a 3-0 lead in their first at-bat, and sat down Roughers pitcher Cody Floyd.

Muskogee’s nightmare start didn’t last long as a quick and strong turnaround for the Roughers put the bad dream in Booker T Washington’s dugout and allowed Muskogee to walk away with a 9-5 victory at Roughers Park.

“Top of the first was not what we wanted,” said Muskogee coach Jeremy Griffin. “We were leaving balls up and we knew the wind was blowing out today and we knew the ball was going to carry. We don’t make a play off of the lead-off gap, and then give up back to back home runs,

“Then after that we really picked it up offensively. This is stuff we practice every day. So it was good.”

In the bottom of the first, Austin Jones came up to the plate for the Roughers (19-12) and reduced the lead to one when his single into right-centerfield scored Bryson Bell and Dakota Morse. The Roughers continued the inning when Keshawn Ballard, who injured his left shoulder on the first swing of his at bat, sucked it up and sent a shot that rolled to the wall for a triple and bringing in Jones to tie the score at 3-3.

A wild pitch during Floyd’s at-bat allowed Ballard to score and gave the Roughers a 4-3 lead after one inning. Ballard finished the game hitting 3-for-3 and was a home run away from hitting for the cycle as he had a triple, double, and single for the game.

“We played together as a team,” Ballard said. “We kept our mentality together when we needed it most and fought back.”

After both teams added a run in the second, making the score 5-4, the Roughers padded their lead in the third when Morse, Harris Jones, and Austin Jones started off the inning with singles, the latter scoring Morse to give the Roughers a 6-4 lead. Ballard continued his strong hitting performance with a double that scored in Harris Jones for the second run of the inning. Floyd’s ground out scored in Austin Jones for the third and final run of the inning making it an 8-4 game.

Booker T. (17-14) picked up its game in the fourth and fifth innings on both sides of the ball and created a challenge for the Roughers.

Defensively, the Hornets kept the trio of Morse, Harris Jones and Austin Jones, off of the bases in the fourth inning after lead-off hitter Bryson Bell reached base on a single and was joined by Cayden Cockle who was walked. However, Harris Jones’ sacrifice fly out to centerfield scored Bell on making it a 9-4 game.

Offensively, the Hornets challenged in the fifth as they loaded the bases with no outs. That caused Harris Jones to take over mound duties, replacing Jacob Stinson who allowed only one Hornets run after taking over for Floyd. Grant Phillips into a double play that allowed Bobby Cox to score from third making it a 9-5 game. Harris ended the scare as he struck out David Gammere to end the inning.

“I wanted the ball the whole game,” Harris Jones said. “I kept telling coach that I wanted it and I got it. So coming in, I wanted to get a ground ball to get a double play and face the next guy. I didn’t care if they got one run there since we had a good lead. I just didn’t want a base hit into the gap.”

Morse took over pitching in the final inning and struck out the side to secure the win.

“We are optimistic heading near the end of the season,” Griffin said. “I think we are playing our best baseball right now. Our last three games have been great offensively. We have pitched well and we have played good defense.

“We have all been talking about it, about going into the end of season hot, rolling on a five-game win streak going into regionals. We have gotten three out of the way and have two more on Friday against Sapulpa and if we win one of those, we lock up a two seed in regionals. So we are feeling pretty good.”