After scoring six unearned runs in the top of the first inning of Friday afternoon’s loser’s bracket semifinal contest with Ada at the American Legion west regional at Rose State College, the Lawton Colonels were primed to blow out the Braves for the second time in three days.
But this time the Ada offense answered — and in “grand” fashion.
The Braves countered Lawton’s big first inning with a nine-run explosion in their first at-bat and continued to churn out runs en route to a wild 17-13 victory that earned them a spot against old rival Ardmore in Friday night’s loser’s bracket final. Ardmore, which, like Ada, beat Brassfield and Lawton on the way to Friday’s nightcap, was blown out by the two-time defending state champion — and tournament host — Oklahoma Outlaws, 23-1, in Friday’s second game.
An 18-8 loser to Lawton in the tournament opener Wednesday, Ada fell behind 6-0 to the Colonels for the second straight game in Friday’s rematch before taking a 9-6 lead on Hunter Marcum’s grand slam in the bottom in the first. Then, after the Colonels wiped out an 11-9 deficit with three runs in the top of the fifth, a grand slam by Marcum’s former Purcell High teammate, Tanner Bell (his third home run in as many games), in the bottom of that inning gave Ada the lead for good.
The bases-loaded blasts by Marcum and Bell (who had just one home run apiece when the week began) marked only the second time in the team’s four-year history that two Post 72 players had hit grand slams in the same game.
Bell, who, like Marcum, finished with five RBIs, drove in 12 runs and scored eight times in his first three games at the regional while going 7-for-12. He also singled home Marcum with the first run in Ada’s big first inning, which featured a three-run double to the wall in center field by Blake Logan that made it 6-4.
Cody Robinson followed Logan’s hit with an RBI single up the middle, then Dylan Johnson lined a single to right and Matt Benedict loaded the bases with a perfectly-placed one-out bunt single past the mound.
Three pitches later, Marcum lined a 1-1 offering from Lawton starter Dre Jensen over the fence in right to give the Braves their first lead of the week over the Colonels — a team they had run-ruled in three regular-season meetings.
Ada answered a two-run Lawton rally in the top of the third highlighted by Gabe Sweat’s RBI double with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Kade Curry drew a one-out walk and moved to third on Marcum’s opposite-field single to left-center, and both runners scored on Jake Sanders’ clutch single up the middle to again make it a three-run game at 11-8.
The Colonels scored another run off Ada starter Dylan Tinkler in the fourth on a leadoff double by Graydon Gatlin and an RBI single by T. J. Turner.
Tinkler, making his first start on the mound this summer, struck out two of the next three batters, however, and he avoided a big inning by retiring Sweat on a ground ball to end the inning with runners at second and third. Although he handed off an 11-9 lead to Marcum, Tinkler surrendered only three earned runs in his four innings of work.
Jordan Scott relieved Tinkler to start the fifth and got a quick first out, but an error, a hit batter, a two-out infield hit and a walk produced one run, and Ryan Burnett’s two-run single gave the Colonels — who scored nine unearned runs in the first and fifth innings combined — their last lead at 12-11.
Brandon Trevino relieved Jensen to start the fifth and gave up a leadoff single to left to Curry before walking Bendedict and Sanders to load the bases with one out. Matt Johnson struck out looking at an 0-2 breaking pitch for the second out, but two pitches later Bell lined an 0-1 pitch from Trevino far over the fence in left-center to make it 15-12. Scott (5-0) settled down after his tough fifth inning to allow just one run over the next three innings, and Moses Isham worked a perfect ninth in his first mound appearance of the season.
The Braves added a run in the sixth on Marcum’s RBI groundout to score Dylan Johnson (who had drawn a leadoff walk), and they parlayed a little hustle into a two-out rally in the seventh that produced their final run.
After back-to-back groundouts to start the inning, Logan lined an 0-1 pitch from Trevino into the left field corner, and Cody Robinson followed with a tapper to the right side. Gatlin, the Lawton first baseman, hesitated, and Trevino was slow getting over to cover first base. Robinson legged out the infield hit, barely beating Gatlin to the bag, and Trevino’s next pitch skipped to the backstop as Logan scored.
Marcum finished 3-for-6, and Bell, Logan, Robinson and Curry added two hits apiece to pace Ada’s 14-hit attack. The two-hit game was Robinson’s third straight at the regional.
Lawton (17-30) outhit the Braves, 16-14, with Turner — whose two-run double was the big blow in the first inning — going 4-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs and five other players — Sweat, Burnett, Scott, Nick Yoning and Christian Hill — added two hits apiece in the loss.
At Rose State College
Am. Legion West Regional
Ada Braves 17, Lawton 13
LAWTON 602 130 010 — 13 16 1
ADA 902 041 10x — 17 14 4
Dre Jensen, Brandon Trevino (5), Barton McDonald (8) and Cody Knight. Dylan Tinkler, Jordan Scott (5), Moses Isham (9) and Tanner Bell. WP-Scott (5-0). LP-Trevino. HR-Bell, Hunter Marcum (A). 2B-Gabe Sweat, Graydon Gatlin, T. J. Turner (L), Blake Logan 2, Marcum (A). HL-Turner 4-5, 2 RS, 3 RBIs; Sweat 2-6, 2 RBIs; Christian Hill 2-5, RBI; Taylaun Scott 2-5, 2 RS; Ryan Burnett 2-2, 3 RS, 3 RBIs (L), Marcum 3-6, 3 RS, 5 RBIs; Bell 2-5, 2 RS, 5 RBIs; Kade Curry 2-3, 2 RS; Cody Robinson 2-5, RS, RBI; Jake Sanders 1-3, 2 RS, 2 RBIs; Logan 2-3, 2 RS, 3 RBIs; Matt Benedict 1-2, 2 RS; Dylan Johnson 1-4, 2 RS (A).