Jeff Cali Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
EDMOND, Okla. —
The Latta Panthers dug themselves a 6-0 hole, tried to crawl out of it but came up just short in a 6-4 loss to Rattan in the first round of the Class A State Tournament Thursday evening at Edmond Santa Fe High School.
No. 6 Latta finished its season at 18-8 while seventh-ranked Rattan advanced at 26-9.
Rattan scored five runs in the top of the fourth inning to break the game open and grab its 6-0 lead. Mark Baze had a big RBI double from the eight-hole and Blake Watts — the Rams’ ace pitcher — helped his own cause with a sacrifice fly. But Rattan also took advantage of an untimely Latta error, two walks and several wild pitches and passed balls.
“What’s harder is how they got them,” said Latta head coach Ed Collins about his team’s early deficit. “We got ourselves in a hole. I felt like we’d pitch it better. We had some plays that you just can’t have up here.”
“We uncharacteristically did some things we haven’t done in the last three weeks or we wouldn’t have been here,” the veteran LHS coach added. “We couldn’t have played this way last week, or we wouldn’t have been here.”
Latta tried to stage a rally. After leaving a runner at third in the third inning, the Panthers scored twice in the bottom of the fourth.
Austin Simpson, the losing pitcher, and Kade Hayes hit back-to-back singles to lead off the fourth. Treston Tully hit a two-RBI double to the gap in right center field to cut the Rattan advantage to 6-2. Tully would steal third but Watts got Rattan out of the inning with two straight strikeouts.
The bottom of the Latta lineup sparked a two-run Latta fifth inning. Tristan Monroe ripped a double to the wall in center field to lead things off and Tristan Wood followed from the nine-hole with a bad-hop single to right that pushed home the first Latta run of the inning.
Wood moved to second on a bunt, advanced to third on a groundout and — after an intentional walk to Kade Hayes — scored on a passed ball. Parker Henderson reached on an error to put runners at the corners but Tully flied out to right field, leaving Rattan clinging to a 6-4 lead.
The Panthers got a base runner in both the sixth and seventh innings but couldn’t produce another run. Simpson hit a one-out single and went to second on a wild pitch in the seventh but would advance no further.
“That’s big. You come back from 6-0 and get the tying man on. That’s where you just have to have something happen,” Collins said. “We came back and got ourselves in position to do some things.”
Watts was simply too overpowering on this day. Latta did manage to collect six hits and scratch for some runs, but the Rattan hurler finished with 14 strikeouts — including the first six batters he faced.
“I knew we would have our hands full with him on the mound,” Collins said. “We took too many fastball strikes today. You have to get after his fastball because his secondary pitches are too good. That kid’s a good one. That’s as good a arm as you’re going to see up here.”
Latta’s Brady Johnson went to the mound in the fourth and promptly shut down the Rattan offense. He retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced, finishing with 10 strikeouts and one walk four innings of work. Johnson struck out five in a row during one stretch.
“He gave us a chance, and that’s all you can ask,” Collins said.
Simpson was the only Latta batter with more than one hit, finishing 2-for-4. Monroe went 1-for-1 while Kade Hayes, Tulley and Wood all had hits.
Rattan got two hits from both A.J. Davis and Tyler McAdams.
“I’m proud of these guys. We came a long way. We just didn’t come long enough,” Collins said. “There’s a lot of little bitty things you can look at, but hopefully we can overcome those (in the future). I think we have a chance to be pretty good this spring, we just have to take another step.”
Thursday, Oct. 10
CLASS A STATE
At Edmond Santa Fe
Rattan 6, Latta 4
RATTAN 010 500 0 — 6 7 1
LATTA 000 220 0 — 4 6 1
Blake Watts and Mark Baze. Austin Simpson, Brady Johnson (4) and Ty Hoppe. WP-Watts. LP-Simpson. 2B-A.J. Davis, Zack Brown, Baze (R); Tristan Monroe (L). HL-Davis 2-4, McAdams 2-3, Brown 1-3, 2 RS, Watts 14 Ks (R); Simpson 2-4, Treston Tully 1-3, 2 RBIs, Johnson 10 Ks (L).