MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

May 5, 2012

Hilldale punches ticket to state with win over FGHS

— OKMULGEE – Hilldale heads to the state high school baseball tournament with plenty of steam.

The Hornets exploded for 11 runs in the third inning against rival Fort Gibson en route to a 14-2 run-rule victory in the Class 4A regional finals at Okmulgee’s Bateman Memorial Park on Friday to garner their first state tourney berth since 2010.

Hilldale scored 38 runs in three regional games this week. The Hornets also toppled Bethel 10-2 and Tuttle 14-1 on Thursday

“We hit the ball really well both days,” coach Darren Riddle said. “We came up and swung the bat well. We hit a lot of balls hard (Friday), even our outs were hit hard. I hope we can continue that into next week at the state tournament.”

The Hornets, ranked No. 11 in the Okrankings.com poll, sent 16 batters to the plate in that third inning and got seven hits.

Second baseman Matthew Bargsten singled twice and doubled while driving in four runs, while shortstop Colby Mullens had four singles and drove in two runs to lead the offensive assault in the inning as the Hornets improved to 24-7.

“We’ve got a lot of momentum going to state,” Mullens said. “We’re going there to win it.”

It also becomes the fifth trip to the tournament in Hilldale’s history. The Hornets advanced in 2004, 2005 and 2009, reaching the title game in 2004.

Fort Gibson coach Randy Smith, who used four pitchers in the fateful third frame, thinks the Hornets can bring home the state championship after ending his team’s season at 18-16.

“We couldn’t throw strikes that inning,” he said. “They’ve got a good club. Once they got that big jump on us, Hunter (Harrison, Hilldale’s starting and winning pitcher) calmed down and started throwing strikes.

“I hope they can win state because you always like to get beat out by the team that wins state.”

Harrison, a junior, was able to pitch Friday because he only threw 45 pitches in the Hornets’ run-rule victory against Tuttle on Thursday. He improved his record to 10-1.

“Hunter was outstanding on the mound and we were fortunate to bring him back for this game,” Riddle said. “He’s such a bulldog. I’ve got a lot of faith in him, but I have a lot of faith in a lot of guys on this team. This feels really good right now.”

Tiger starter Kevin Cook (1-1) was the loser.

The Tigers crossed the plate once each in the first and third innings.

Bubba Stone’s fly out to center field scored Lane Dortch in the bottom of the first. But Hilldale center fielder Miles Jackson threw Ned Adair out on a peg to third baseman Dalton Cunningham. Adair reached on the first of back-to-back walks, the other given to Cook.

The Tigers got their other run on Brandon Purdy’s ground out to shortstop which scored Dortch in the third. Dortch had tripled to lead off the inning.

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