MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Prep Sports

May 3, 2014

Wagoner wins, moves on to regionals

WAGONER – Wyat Grooms remembered last season when the Wagoner Bulldogs’ season ended in the district championships at home.

He was not about to let that as he led the Bulldogs past Claremore Sequoyah 5-3 for the Class 4A district title on Friday at Willis Hudlin Field in Wagoner.

“This is great,” Grooms said. “Claremore (Sequoyah) was the team we beat in districts my sophomore year. Last year started out great and just went downhill real fast. But it feels good to be back here.”

Wagoner coach Larry Milligan said on Thursday that Grooms would get the start in the winner-take-all game. Milligan was very proud of the effort he got out of his senior right hander.

“He’s earned it,” Milligan said. “He’s been here all year and he gave us exactly what we wanted. We told him “Listen, we don’t expect you to finish the ball game. Just get us as far as you possibly can and keep us in it.”

Grooms took his instructions to heart as he improved to 4-2 on the season. Joe Charboneau came on in relief in the sixth to earn his first save of the season, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking five batters.

“Another great pitching performance from Joe,” Milligan said. “He threw five innings against them in two days and didn’t give up a run.”

After Grooms worked out of a first-inning jam, the Bulldogs (21-8) jumped on Eagles’ starter J.J. Filby for four runs on four hits in the bottom of the first. Grant Brown led off with a single while Tyler Milligan brought home Brown with a triple down the left field line for a 1-0 lead.

Grooms then stepped up and decided to help himself with a sacrifice fly to right that plated Tyler Milligan with the second run. Wagoner would add two more runs in the frame on a single by Cody Milligan, who was the only Bulldog to have a multi-hit game going 2-for-3, and a groundout by Brett Butler to put the Bulldogs on top 4-0.

“We were trying to get (Filby) to throw as manta pitches as he could,” Cody Milligan said. “If we could get him to throw at least 15 pitches an inning, that was good for us.”

Grooms kept the Eagles off the scoreboard until the third inning when they tagged him for two runs in the third on a two-out, two-run double by Logan McGill. Claremore (14-15) added another run in the fourth on a single through the left side by Logan Tacker to make the score 4-3.

“It had to be my curveball – it was really working for me today,” Grooms said. “They were just hitting bleeders left and right because I couldn’t control my fastball real well. But the curveball kept me in it and my defense played real well behind me.”

In the top of the fifth inning, McKaine Foster led off with a double to left center. Grooms bored down and got Jeff Harrison to pop up to second and Reese Robinette and Logan McGill to groundout to Charboneau at first.

Grooms added his final heroic touch to the game when he led off the bottom of the fifth. He got a 2-0 fastball from Filby and sent it over the right field wall for a 5-3 lead.

“I had hit some balls deep all game but they were caught,” Grooms said. “I knew when I hit that one, it was not going to be caught.”

The Bulldogs must now wait until Monday to see who they will face and where they will play in next week’s regional. Coach Milligan believes his team is starting to click on all cylinders.

“We’ve told the kids all year long that we want to be that team the top seeds that gets to host the regional don’t want to see coming,” said coach Milligan. “And I think we’re at that point right now.”

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