MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

May 5, 2012

Eufaula wins two, remains alive for state tourney return

— EUFAULA — It was a long day at the ballpark for Eufaula coach Preston James and his Ironheads.

But when it was all over, they were able to stave off elimination and get the chance to return to the Class 3A state tournament.

Eufaula was taken to nine innings in the first game Friday against Morris before scoring seven runs to take a 14-7 win in a game which was delayed for nearly 30 minutes due to lightning. Then the Ironheads, behind a strong pitching performance from senior Daniel Salters, defeated Spiro 8-1.

With the two wins, Eufaula (27-5) will face Spiro (21-11) again at 1 p.m. today to decide the regional champion with the winner advancing to state. Last season, the Ironheads played the Bulldogs in the deciding game at regionals, with Eufaula winning 6-5.

“This time of year, when you get yourself in that position where you’ve got to come back through the loser’s bracket, it’s just survival baseball anyway and that’s what that first game was. It was survival of the fittest and we worked ourself to death and couldn’t be more proud of them the way they came out and played the second one,” James said.

Salters allowed four hits, all singles, and struck out 12 against a Spiro lineup which one day earlier scored 12 runs to defeat the Ironheads. After giving up an RBI single to Colton Gamble in the second which cut Eufaula’s lead to 3-1, Salters didn’t allow another hit until there were two outs in the seventh.

“We talked before the first game started about how we’ve got to have some gutsy performances out of the kids (Friday), they’re going to be tired, and that’s exactly what that was, it was just a gutsy performance,” James said. “We didn’t plan on him (Salters) throwing the whole game, but he just kept getting stronger, his arm wasn’t bothering him, he’s going to be a little sore, but at the same time, that’s the kind of competitors that you need at this time of the year and he just did a fantastic job.”

Salters also helped his own cause at the plate with a solo home run to right leading off the fourth, an inning after teammate Brady Colbert had a leadoff homer of his own. Salters’ blast started a four-run inning, which was capped by another homer, a two-run shot to right from Trey Moore which gave Eufaula its final 8-1 advantage, which Salters was able to maintain the rest of the way.

All three Ironheads who homered (Salters, Colbert and Moore) had two hits apiece as did Braddock Dobbs. Eufaula, which scored six first-inning runs in Thursday’s loss to Spiro, opened the scoring with three runs in the first. Moore hit a sacrifice fly in the first to end up with three RBIs for the game.

“Our bats really came around right there and that helps pitching the most right there, when you get some run support and that’s all we asked for it at the end of the day was to just find a way to scratch and claw until we can get ourself to (today), and that’s where we’re at,” James said.

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