MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

March 25, 2013

Home field, weather not good for Roughers in loss

It was a rude awakening for the Muskogee and Bixby baseball teams as they returned from the sunshine of Arizona to the anything-goes weather of Oklahoma on Monday.

But the Spartans, who along with the Roughers were just a few days removed from a spring break trip to the desert, made the adjustments and came through with timely hitting when needed to defeat the Roughers 8-3 in District 6A-3 baseball action at Roughers Park.

“We go from 84 degrees last week to 35 degrees today,” said a shivering Bixby coach Mickey Nichol. “But I was a proud of the way we played today. We went up and swung the bat on a day that it wasn’t a lot of fun to feel the sting of that bat when you hit it.”

And it was that aggressiveness at the plate or, in Muskogee’s case a lack thereof, that was a big difference in the game.

“We just have to find some consistency,“ said Roughers’ coach Jeremy Griffin. “We came out today and we were flat and I don’t know why. We didn’t have a very good approach offensively after the first two innings and we just didn’t swing the bat well when we needed to.”

Muskogee got on the board without a hit in the first inning as Garrett Brown led off with a walk, was balked to second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Dakota Morse.

The Spartans took the lead for keeps in the second inning as, with two outs, they touched up Roughers’ starter Tyler Bowden for three runs on five hits. The big hit was an RBI-triple by catcher Dillon Barnat.

The Roughers (8-7, 1-4) squandered an opportunity in the second inning as they loaded the bases with one out. Freshman Luke Smith scored from third on a wild pitch but Brown struck out and after Morse walked to load the bases again, Harris Jones popped to the shortstop to end the inning.

Each team got a run in the third inning to make it 4-2 in favor of the Spartans. But the Spartans (9-6,5-4) broke it open in the fourth inning scoring four times on just two hits. The big blast was a three-run homer by shortstop Tristian Cavalli, his second of the season, over the wall in center field.

“It was pretty tough hitting today,” Cavalli said. “But after the first pitch, I was just sitting on an off-speed pitch. When it came, I just got a hold of it and hit it well.”

The Roughers managed just four hits against right-hander Parker McDonald who struck out five and issued four walks in going the distance. Bowden gave up eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings and was also the offensive leader with a pair of doubles and an RBI in four at-bats. Southpaw Cody Floyd relieved Bowden and shut the Spartans out the rest of the way.

Griffin hopes Muskogee can get back to the way they played during spring break.

“The Arizona trip was good. We played four games out there and were 3-1,” Griffin said. “The one game we lost we had great energy, but left 17 base runners stranded. I think that stretch of four games was the best we’ve played as a team so far this season.”

The Roughers will try to bounce back this afternoon as they travel to Bixby.

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