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Sports

May 10, 2014

Oktaha’s season is finished; Kansas too much in 3A regional final

OKTAHA — Dalton Martin’s shoulders weren’t quite big enough Friday in the Class 3A regional.

Carrying the bulk of his team’s offensive load with seven hits in as many at-bats in two games, the Oktaha Tigers’ catcher came up seeking to make it 8-for-8 with Tyler Edgar on at first after a two-out single to left. Bradley McCoy, Oktaha’s cleanup hitter, was the tying run on deck and had a two-run home run in his previous at-bat.

On a 1-0 pitch, Kansas pitcher Shayne Warren tossed a cutter which Martin hit hard and on the ground but right at Comets shortstop Logan Blaine, who got Edgar on the force out at second.

It basically drained what energy Oktaha had left. The speedy Comets’ pressure finally broke it open with four runs in the seventh, sparked by three bunt singles, and the No. 2 team in 3A punched a state ticket with a 13-6 win.

“He squared up. You can’t say enough about the grit there,” Oktaha coach Kevin Rodden said after his team finished 19-11. “To catch 14 innings behind the plate and hit the way he did, I mean what a way to go out for a senior. Just not with a win though. These kids fought and fought and not only him but we all scraped. They’re not No. 2 in 3A for nothing. We just ran out of juice.”

Kansas (30-4) ran the table in the regional going 3-0 and beating Oktaha in the winner’s bracket final on Wednesday. The Tigers recovered from that loss with an 11-1 win over Okemah earlier in the day Friday.

Martin was 4-for-4 with four RBIs in that one, including a two-run home run in the fifth that broke open a 2-1 game. He started the Kansas game with a solo home run, his fourth of the season,and was a triple from the cycle when he stood in in the seventh.

“I was looking for a fastball to drive and keep it going,” Martin said.

Warren had one basic thought on his mind.”

“Don’t throw him anything inside,” he said. “It was pretty nerve-wracking.”

But he and Kansas had an answer all day.

Just like with Martin’s home run in the first, Kansas played four in the top of the second and never trailed.

Casey Armbrister’s one-out double down the left field line was the first of four hits off the Tigers pitcher, Edgar.  After a Tyler Andrews single, Edgar hit the first of two batters in the inning to load the bases for Colby Wilkerson, whose two-run double to right put Kansas up 2-1. Reed Fell’s bunt single brought in another run and Edgar’s first walk came with the bases loaded and Austin Hunt standing in. That completed the four-run inning.

A five-spot in the fourth ended Edgar’s day. In all, he hit five Kansas batters while giving up seven hits. He had only one base on balls and six of his nine runs were earned.

A sixth Kansas hitter, Warren, got called out for batter interfence when he was hit in that five-run fourth.

Rodden didn’t see a trend in that.

“I’ve coached against Graham when he was at Westville,” the former Sallisaw Central coach said. “They play the game hard and work hard at it, and they have so much speed and pressure they can put on you. You can’t bobble and give them extra outs.”

 With the first game tight through the fifth, Rodden’s option of pulling his ace hurler, Daceauda Davis, to be available for the Kansas game did not pan out.

Rodden said it wouldn’t have mattered.

“He could pitch at the next level,” he said. “We’re here to win and compete but I’m not going to risk injury in that situation. He took us as far as he could.”

Davis (10-4) allowed just three hits and struck out six. A double-error on a pickoff attempt resulted in the only run off the senior.

Also against Okemah, Josiah Lasarge had three hits in four trips. Josh Sparrow was 2-for-4 with three runs driven in, including a two-run double in the seventh.

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