, Muskogee, OK

June 29, 2014

Red erase 3-run deficit to beat Hilldale

By Patrick Kays
Phoenix Correspondent

— After a five-run fourth, the Hilldale Hornets seemed to have overcome a slow start to take control of its Heartland All-Star Classic game with Oklahoma Red on Saturday at Hilldale High School.

But the Red surged back, rallying with four unanswered runs, leading to a 7-6 win in extra innings over the Hornets to win their pool and advance to today’s semifinal round.

The Red, who made the finals last year, will play the American Legion entry, Three Rivers Bandits, at 9:30 a.m. with the winner advancing to the title game at 3 p.m., both at Connors State. The Red lost to Oklahoma Navy, who will play Oklahoma White in the other semifinal at noon, 7-6 in last year’s championship game, giving Navy back-to-back titles.

Trailing 3-1 in the fourth, Hilldale put the Red team against the ropes. Gunnar Drake started the campaign as he reached first on an error. Jarod Nail walked and James Folsom’s single loaded the bases with only one out.

Rannek Murray’s walk scored in Drake making it a one-run game. Kobe Kuykendall tied it up with a single into left field that scored Nail. Matt Bargsten’s walk gave the Hornets the lead as Folsom touched home, but the biggest blow came in the next at-bat as Isaac Isham singled into right field, scoring both Murray and Kuykendall to make it 6-3.

Red’s pitcher and Eufaula Ironhead Trey Moore recovered from the onslaught, holding the Hornets scoreless while his team’s bats began the comeback.

“I knew we could fight back. These kids have a lot of heart. They played really hard,” said Red’s coach Doug Merrie. “We swung the bats really well at times and that really helped us.”

After the Red’s Brock Knaten reached on a fielder’s choice in the fifth, he used a steal and a wild pitch to put himself at third with only one out. Jessy Lowery plated Knaten on a sacrifice fly to left, making it a 6-4 ball game. Red continued in the sixth as Tristan Pendley singled, stole two bases and came home on a sacrifice fly by Hyatt Frost to make it a one-run game. Chase Monroe tied the score at 6-6 when he singled in Dakota Porter, who reached on a walk.

In the ninth, Monroe again reached on a single and scored on a double to the gap in right by Zach Royal, who was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.

“When Chase got on we tried to bunt him over but Hilldale took the bunts away from us,” said Merrie. “So we just had to manufacture a run and with Zach up, I knew he was due for a big hit and he came through with that double.”

It was the second straight extra-inning loss for Hilldale, who was without its coach, Darren Riddle, on Saturday. The Hornets lost 9-7 to Oklahoma Maroon in a game that ended in the wee hours on Saturday morning.

Royal also got things going for the Red in the third as he started the inning with a double to the left field wall and scored on Dakota Porter’s chopper into shallow right to make it a 3-0 game.

Errors were Hilldale’s friend in the bottom of the third.  Bargsten reached second on an error on the throw from center field after his single. He moved to third as Isham got to first on another error. That brought up Altman, whose fielder’s choice groundout scored Bargsten to make it 3-1.