Carla Harris, special correspondent
The Ada News
The Latta Panthers rebounded nicely from a 7-2 loss to Christian Heritage Academy in the semifinals to pound Purcell 10-1 in the third place game of the Newcastle Tournament.
Latta, ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, moves to 13-3 on the season heading into today’s 4:30 p.m. road showdown with top-ranked Dale.
C. Heritage 7, Latta 2
Christian Heritage ace (and OU signee) Bryant Hodge dominated Latta through four-plus innings before suffering a freak elbow injury in the fifth that sent him to the hospital.
Kade Hayes led off the fifth with a single and, after striking out two batters, Hodge faced Zac Dansby. With the count at 2-1, Hodge attempted to throw a pitch, yelled out in pain and fell to the ground. He was immediately taken off the field and to the hospital. Reports were that Hodge suffered a broken elbow on the play.
Hodge struck out 11 and allowed only four hits before the injury. The Panthers could never get on track in the game. They stranded seven base runners all in scoring position, and committed three errors in the loss.
Joe Lemieux started off with a triple to deep right center and scored on a fielder’s choice in the top of the first to give Christian Heritage a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the inning, Kade Hayes led off with a walk and stole second. Bryce Harris then singled to left and moved Hayes to third, but Hodge struck out the side to end that threat.
Wyatt Ryan singled in the bottom of the second, and Parker Henderson drew a walk. Hayes then knocked in Ryan to tie it up at 1-1.
In the top of the third, Dustin Harshaw earned a free pass, and a sacrifice by Dillon East moved him to second. Caleb LittleJim then singled and drove in Harshaw for a 2-1 Christian Heritage lead.
The Crusaders put three runs on the board in the top of the fifth. Connor Osborn doubled to left field, then Harshaw and East both reached on infield singles to load the bases. Lemieux doubled and drove in two runs for a 4-1 lead. Caleb LittleJim reached on a fielder’s choice. HE was picked off during a delayed steal, but Lemieux beat the throw at home for a 5-1 CHA lead.
Hayes singled to start the bottom half of the inning and once again stole second. Hodge struck out the next two Panthers. With a 2-1 count to Zac Dansby, Hodge threw a pitch, yelled out in pain and went to the ground. He was immediately taken out of the game and rushed to the hospital. Gabe LittleJim was brought to the mound, and Dansby singled and knocked in Hayes to cut the lead to 5-2.
In the top of the sixth, Gabe LittleJim then hit a solo home run to right-center field to extend the lead to 6-2. Christian Heritage tacked on another run in the top of the seventh, thanks to a pair of Latta errors.
Latta 10, Purcell 1
The Dragons grabbed an early 1-0 lead when Jonah Northcutt reached on a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Brandon Hackney and then scored on a Latta error.
Zac Dansby and Wyatt Ryan reached on back-to-back singles to start the second inning, and Parker Henderson walked to load the bases. Treston Tulley then singled to right and drove in Dansby to tie the game at 1-1. Kade Hayes blasted a triple to deep center to clear the bases and give Latta a 4-1 advantage. Brandon Clifton then reached on an error, and Hayes scored for a 5-1 lead.
Winning pitcher Jake Collins gave up his only hit when Northcutt singled in the bottom of the third. Northcutt stole second, but the Panthers ended the threat with two quick outs.
The Panthers tacked on five more runs in the top of the fifth. Collins tripled to start the inning. Bryce Harris then singled and drove in Collins. Dansby was hit by a pitch before Brady Johnson laid down a nice bunt for a base hit to load the bases. Harris scored on an error, and Ryan hit an RBI single to score Johnson. Henderson knocked in the final run of the inning on a another LHS hit to make it 10-1.