By Ronn Rowland
Phoenix Sports Writer
TAHLEQUAH – Hunter Harrison tossed a two-hit shutout as the Hornets defeated the Cleveland Tigers 7-0 in Hilldale’s second game of the day, having fallen to Sallisaw 10-2 in its first game at the Tahlequah Tiger Classic on Friday.
The early loss dropped Hilldale, 1-2 in the tournament, out of contention for tonight’s 6:20 p.m. title game.
Harrison finished the game with eight strikeouts against two walks, but it was his ability to work out of jams that coach Darren Riddle was the proudest of.
“He’s a great competitor,” Riddle said. “There were a couple of times he had base runners on and pitched out of it. He has his best stuff at the end when we needed it.”
After a scoreless first inning, Hilldale (16-10) put its first two runs of the game on the board in the second inning with an RBI single by Derek Altman, scoring Bailey Puckett, and a bases-loaded walk by Miles Jackson which plated Cameron Orman, giving the Hornets a 2-0 advantage.
Hilldale made the score 4-0 after three innings when Harrison scored on a wild pitch and Scott Rodden came home on a successful double steal. The Hornets added two more runs in the fifth inning on a two-run double by Altman and closed out the scoring in the sixth on a double by Orman.
Altman and Orman led the way at the plate for Hilldale as each went 3-for-4 while Altman drove in three while Orman scored twice and drove in one.
“Any time we get on base, we’re looking to be aggressive and try to find a way to score,” Harrison said. “We weren’t swinging it well today but we kept putting it in play. When you do that, good things happen.”
Tahlequah 9, Checotah 6
What could have been a disappointing loss turned into an exciting victory for the Tahlequah Tigers as they beat the Checotah Wildcats 9-6 in the Tiger Classic.
The Tigers (10-14) jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings before the Wildcats (13-10) came back with five runs in the top of the fourth to take a 5-4 lead, the final two scoring on a two-run single by Wyatt Hatridge.
Tahlequah regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth with two runs before Checotah tied the game in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Hatridge. The Tigers took the lead for good, and closed out the scoring with a three-run bottom of the sixth, the final two on Logan Lewis’ inside-the-park home run, capping a 2-for-4 night with two runs scored and three runs batted in.
“We let that one inning snowball a little bit, but other than we played some good baseball,” said Tahlequah coach Nick Zodrow. “In Logan’s situation with two outs, we were going to try it. He got in the middle of one and has been hitting the ball real well.”
Another hero for Tahlequah was Houston Glad who finished the game going 3-for-4 with and three RBIs, including the game winner on a single that scored Connor Mutzig, one batter before Lewis’ heroic shot. Glad also came on in relief of Ryan Sanders in the seventh inning to record the save after Sanders tossed six innings and gave up four earned runs with four strikeouts and one walk.
“We played really good defense,” Glad said. “We also hit it well with runners in scoring position. Ryan pitched a solid game and I did my job in the seventh.”
For Checotah, Hatridge got the start on the mound and tossed a complete game and surrendered seven earned runs while striking out six and walking one. He also led the Wildcats at the plate going 2-for-2 with two sacrifices and three RBIs.
“Our guys fought and you gotta love that about them,” said Checotah coach Tom Butler. “Wyatt’s a warrior and has been one all year long. We put him on the mound and he’s gonna battle.”
While Zodrow was happy with the win, he knows that the defense was on its game.
“Ryan threw a lot of strikes and made them put the ball in play,” Zodrow said. “Our defense was engaged but we did make a couple of mistakes. We did make a couple of diving catches and played solid.”
The Tigers continue play in tournament with two games today, at 12:05 p.m. against Keys and 4:15 p.m. versus Sallisaw Central. Checotah is finished with pool play at 2-1 after coming back in the final game of the day to beat Keys 14-4.
In the other games on Friday, Jay won both its contests, beating Cleveland 10-2 and Sallisaw 8-6. The tournament concludes today with the championship game set for a 6:20 p.m. first pitch.