, Muskogee, OK

April 23, 2013

Big inning lifts Oktaha past Stuart

By Jimmy Stinson
Phoenix Correspondent

— OKTAHA – Sometimes a change of position can bring another perspective to the game of baseball.

That is exactly what Oktaha High School senior Caleb Shoemake found on Monday night. The Oklahoma Wesleyan College commit traded his normal position behind the plate for the pitcher’s mound and led the Tiger’s to a 7-6 victory over the Stuart Hornets in what was Oktaha’s final tuneup before district playoffs begin on Thursday.

Shoemake, making only his third start on the mound, went six innings and picked up the win moving his record to 2-1.

“It was a little different but I adjusted and got into a groove,” said Shoemake.  “We go over stuff like playing other spots, coach (Michael Adair) teaches us to be ready for whatever might happen.”

The game did not get off to a great start for Shoemake and the Tigers (12-9). The Hornets plated a run each in the first and second innings and Shoemake was personally responsible for those runs.

Stuart’s lead-off batter, Sam Mitchell, reached base on a single, advanced to second on a stolen base and moved to third on a passed ball.  Two pitches later, Mitchell raced home on a wild pitch from Shoemake. He then settled in a struck out the next three batters.

“I started a little slow and didn’t have my best stuff to start,” he said. “That was how they scored that first run.”

The second inning was similar to the first as Jacob Stopp singled for the Hornets (12-7) to get things started and moved to third on a single by Traynor Blasengame. Again, two pitches later another wild pitch by Shoemake allowed Stopp to score.

In the fifth inning, Shoemake allowed three runs and it all started with Blasengame hitting a slow roller right back to the mound that went under the glove of Shoemake.

“I’m usually closer to the ground (playing catcher),” he said. “I just didn’t stay down on it.”

After inducing a pop fly, Kaleb Wilson singled then Dillon Lawrence hit a shot over the left field fence and the Hornets stretched their lead to 5-0.

The bats for Oktaha seemed to take a while to show up but they finally did in the bottom of the fifth inning sending eleven batters to the plate and scoring all seven runs.  The scoring began with Jordan Webb inducing a bases-loaded walk, scoring Zach Evans. Justin Capps then singled to center field to bring in Shoemake which was followed by a two-run double from Tristan Yarbrough. Tyler Edgar closed out the scoring, coming home on another Hornets’ error.

“We gathered up a little bit and I told them we were just kinda floating along,” Adair said. “We sat back not taking advantage of our opportunities. Caleb threw real well and we didn’t support him at first, then we respond with seven runs, I’m pretty happy with that.

“Caleb has come a long way. He didn’t throw in the fall and we’ve had some injuries but he stepped up and did his job.”

Yarbrough had the big bat for Oktaha, going 1-for-3 but that one was the double down the left field line that plated two runs.

Shoemake was the winning pitcher, giving up six runs on six hits but also recorded 12 strikeouts. Daceauda Davis pitched the seventh inning, striking out one while registering his third save of the year.

Oktaha returns to action at 4 p.m. Thursday when it hosts Liberty in district playoff action.