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July 7, 2014

Three Rivers comes up short in Okmulgee semis

OKMULGEE – The Three Rivers American Legion Bandits had a berth in the finals of the Okmulgee Fourth of July Festival in their sights.

Leading 3-0 heading into the top of the seventh, the Bandits watched Texarkana, Texas, score five runs in the inning then hold on for a 5-4 win.

“We won’t find any teams that we play that were better than these guys,” said Bandits’ coach Rusty Fulps. “This was top-quality competition that we were playing. We beat them Friday.”

Three Rivers (25-4) opened the scoring in the bottom of the third when Ryan Collins singled, A.J. Deason walked and both came home on a double by Warner ex, and current Connors State Cowboy Tim Smithson’s double to give the Bandits a 2-0 lead.

The Bandits would tack on another run in the fourth on a Brennan Davis double which scored Wagoner’s Wyat Grooms to give Three Rivers a 3-0 advantage.

Until the seventh, Three Rivers’ starter MacKaine Foster had been cruising on the mound, having only given up a lead-off single to begin the game. But in the seventh, Texarkana touched Foster for four hits and induced two walks to lead to its five-run outburst for a 5-3 lead.

“We have a tailor-made double play in that inning,” Fulps said. “We get the turn but the throw to first had to be dug out and didn’t get dug out in time. That would have ended the game and we would have won.”

The Bandits cut the deficit to one in their final at-bat when Smithson lead off with a double and Grooms brought him home with a single. But Grooms was forced out on a fielder’s choice and the Bandits would not get another runner on.

“Of course you want to win,” Fulps said. “But I feel good about this team and what they did. We went 2-1 in the tournament. We didn’t make errors or nothing.”

For the game, Smithson led Three Rivers going 4-for-4 with three doubles and two runs batted in while Davis was 2-for-3 with two doubles and one RBI and Grooms was 2-for-4 with one RBI. Foster finished the game giving up just five hits while striking out seven and walking two.

The Bandits return to action at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at Connors State when they host Joplin, Mo., in a doubleheader.

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