By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
It was the type of day more suitable for duck hunting.
But at the Hilldale diamond on Tuesday, those ducks would have felt pretty safe.
The Hornets and Wagoner combined to leave 22 baserunners on. The Hornets had a 12-10 edge there and that difference in runs, Hilldale prevailing 2-0 in the chilly contest.
“Neither of us have any good duck hunters, apparently,” quipped Hilldale coach Darren Riddle, his team now 9-5. “I’d have high-balled it and said 35 but I’m not surprised.”
Wagoner coach James Henson, whose 12th-ranked team fell to 6-4, was in agreement with his counterpart.
“Way too many runners left on,” he said.
Unranked Hilldale had an edge in the hit department, 6-5. Wagoner had three reach on errors, one hit batsman and three walks against winning pitcher Hunter Harrison (5-1). Losing pitcher Skylar Davis (1-1) hit two batters, two others reached on errors and two drew walks. Reliever Wyatt Grooms walked one of the three that reached base in the sixth, his only inning of work.
Miles Jackson led off the Hilldale third with a double, moved to third on Isaac Isham’s grounder which Grooms dropped at first. Harrison’s sacrifice fly to left scored Jackson.
That was all Harrison would need on the mound, although he later gave himself some insurance when he led off fifth with a single, moved to second on a bunt by Scott Rodden then to third on a passed ball. He faked a tag-and-run on a fly to left by Colby Mullens which left fielder Jerrod Sloan fired a strike home at catcher Chancey Scott — one that wasn’t quite his web gem of the contest, but more on that later — then reached home on Bill Muse Jr.’s grounder that third baseman Wyatt Probst mishandled.
“I’ll take it,” Harrison said about the five-hit shutout. “My arm was in good shape, but I wasn’t 100 percent. Not sure what exactly it was. I just didn’t feel right.”
Probst, who had both of the Bulldogs’ hits including a game-winning two-run home run in the first meeting at Wagoner on March 7, was again the primary bat for his team and the only multi-hit batsman on either side, going 2-for-3. He had a two-out double in the first but was left stranded. His worst at-bat came in the third when he bounced back to Harrison in what became an inning-ending double play with the bases jammed.
He came up in the seventh as the game-tying run and Harrison threw around him, walking him on five pitches. Grooms, hitting cleanup, then flied out to Jackson in center to end the game.
“I knew what he could do from the first game even though it wasn’t against me,” Harrison said. “I wasn’t going to give him any thing fat, that’s for sure. My focus today was getting him out or keeping him from hurting us.”
“No offense to the next guy (Grooms) but (Probst) has proven what he can do,” he said. “Hunter knows how to handle those situations. He’s been there before and he was able to pitch himself out of several of those situations today.
“What’s frustrating is we didn’t take advantage of the situations we had. But give credit to their defense and pitching.”
Normally pitching in relief duty, Davis gave up four of Hilldale’s six hits in five innings in his first start. Grooms yielded two in a bases-loaded sixth. Another bases-loaded situation was snuffed on Sloan’s charging, diving snag off the bat of Isham to end the Hornets’ fourth inning.
Wagoner is at Fort Gibson on Friday. Hilldale journeys to the Beggs Tournament on Thursday to play Tulsa Edison’s JV at 2 p.m.