By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
Maybe there’s something to that confidence Jeremy Griffin has as Muskogee High School’s baseball coach.
“We’ve preached all year that no matter who we play, we can win,” he said. “It’s our expectation to win. We don’t care if it’s Broken Arrow or a small school.”
For at least on this Monday, the Roughers lived up to Griffin’s expectations with the 3-2 win against the Broken Arrow Tigers in the District 6A-3 opener for both teams at Rougher Park.
Harris Jones’ two-out, fifth-inning double off the center field fence drove in winning pitcher Dakota Morse (2-0) with the winning run. Ethan Barton picked up his first save as the Roughers improved to 2-1 on the young season.
The Roughers will savor this win as it came against the team that reached the state championship game last year before losing to Edmond North. The Tigers return three starters off that team.
Broken Arrow coach Shannon Dobson said Muskogee hasn’t beaten the Tigers “since I’ve been here” in his 11 years at the school. The Tigers slip to 1-2.
“They came ready to play and we came out flat,” he said. “Anytime you do that against anybody, you’re not going to win. They executed at the plate when they needed to and got runners in when they needed to.”
The Roughers got clutch hitting from Jones in the fifth inning after he was hit by a pitch and grounded out to first base in his first two trips to the plate.
“But I had confidence in my third at-bat,” he said. “I saw the ball really well as it came out of his (losing pitcher Caleb Monigold) hand. I didn’t know what to think when I saw it hit the fence.”
With the lead, the Roughers then held on for the win.
After back-to-back ground outs, the Tigers loaded the bases as Nick Roark singled, Justin Brown walked and Trey Cobb walked. Griffin, who replaced Doug Gunselman as coach this season, called Barton to the mound to relieve Morse.
Barton threw a strike, fired an outside pitch that Cody Ziegler popped toward the mound. Barton tossed it to first baseman Jones to end the game.
“Dakota had battled his rear end for 6 2/3 innings, but his pitch count was getting up there,” Griffin said. “I have confidence in all of the guys on our pitching staff.”
Barton, a senior, didn’t want to blow the save.
“I wasn’t going to do that because (Morse) had worked too hard,” he said.
Muskogee got its other runs when Morse singled home Garrett Brown in the first inning and Casey Winters singled in Tyler Bowden in the fourth.
Broken Arrow scored its two runs in the second inning on Muskogee errors.
The Roughers and Tigers play again at 4:30 p.m. today at Broken Arrow.