By Nick Hampton
WARNER — It was familiar surroundings for coach Jared Webster.
Five of the last six years his Oklahoma Navy team has made it to the finals of the Perry Keith Heartland All-Star Classic baseball tournament. But Sunday he became a back-to-back winner in the tournament’s 13th year as Navy defeated Oklahoma Red in a see-saw affair 7-6 at Biff Thompson Field on the Connors State campus.
“Five of my players today were also on last year’s championship team,” said Webster, a former coach at Gore who has been a part of the Heartland Tournament since it started.
”Our team this year had a little more offense and was a little thinner on the pitching but we managed to get the repeat.”
The favored Red team, which allowed only three runs in their five victories in pool play, struck first against former Hilldale Hornet Hunter Harrison, pitching for Navy. Stilwell’s AJ Deason reached on an error, was sacrificed to second and scored on an RBI single by Brock Knoten of Vinita.
Navy manufactured a run in the second as Brody Clay of Stilwell led off with an infield hit, stole second, went to third on an infield out and was driven in on a base hit by Eufaula senior Trey Moore to tie it at 1-1.
Back came the Red team in the third as they used doubles by Deason and Collin Bailey to score twice and make it 3-1.
But like two heavyweight fighters going at it, Navy came back in their half of the third to reclaim the lead. Charlie Hess of Fairview opened things up with a base hit and was sacrificed to second. Sam Rauls followed with the first of two triples for him on the day to drive in a run. Rauls then came home on a sacrifice fly by Cody McNeal of Skiatook. Red pitcher Ryan Collins then gave up a pair of walks sandwiched around a base hit by Austin Catron to load the bases. Clay cleared the bases with a double to give the Navy a 6-3 lead.
The Red team fought back, scoring a single run in the fourth and two more in the fifth inning to tie things up at 6. It squandered a chance to take the lead in the sixth with a runner at third with just one out. But Harrison struck out Brennan Davis and made a nice grab of a low line drive by Deason to end the threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, McNeal started things off for Navy with a base hit. Clay followed with a double down the third base line, moving McNeal to third. Following a strikeout, and with the Red infield playing in, BJ Morris hit sharp grounder to short which was knocked down. But McNeal, running on contact, scored the go-ahead run as Red’s only play was for the out at first base.
Harrison, who went the distance for Navy, retired Red in order in the seventh to preserve the win. The ex-Hornet and Connors signee, gave up just three earned runs while striking out six and going one-for-two at the plate.
“I pitched all right today. It wasn’t great but it was descent enough to get the win,” said Harrison. “My curve was working real well today and my change-up was dropping like it should.”
Clay was the Navy hero at the plate going 3-for-3 with three RBI’s and a run scored.
Navy was undefeated coming into Sunday’s final pool games but lost to Warner 13-6. Warner and Hilldale were the only non all-star teams selected from talent on the east side of the state. Warner went 3-2 with a one-run loss to Maroon on Saturday keeping them from spoiling Navy’s run to a championship.