Just minutes after the second game of Wednesday’s American Legion doubleheader between the Ada Post 72 Braves and the Stillwater Majors, the alarms that warn of lightning nearby began to sound at East Central University. By the time the warning sounded though, the Ada bats had already unleashed some thunder on their visitors from the north.
Coming off a disappointing week at the American Legion Wood Bat Invitational in Missouri in which they won three of four games but struggled to find any consistency at the plate, the Braves returned to the balance they had shown before the trip with a pair of run-rule victories over Stillwater.
Matt Benedict allowed four hits and three runs — all unearned — and Blake Logan continued to add to his club single-season home run record in a 12-3 victory in the opener, and five Ada pitchers combined on a seven-hitter in a 12-4 win in the nightcap.
“Coming back from that wood bat tournament, you could see the difference,” Ada coach Travis Graham said. “We hit the ball well all the way through the lineup.”
With the sweep, the Braves improved to 28-8 heading into Friday’s nine-inning road contest against a McAlester club that rallied from a 9-0 deficit to beat Ada, 17-16, in the sixth game of the season.
The Post 72 squad will wrap up the regular season with four home games — a doubleheader against Okmulgee Monday and single games against the Oklahoma City Ambassadors and Burkburnett, Texas, in a three-way at ECU Tuesday. Ada will be the top seed in the regional tournament that begins Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
Ada Braves 12, Stillwater 3
Benedict (6-2) didn’t allow an earned run for the fourth time in six starts this summer, and the Braves scored in each of their four at-bats. Ada touched Stillwater starter Dalton Slavens for five first-inning runs, the last four on Logan’s 16th home run of the season — a tape-measure shot to left-center following an RBI double by Jake Sanders and walks to Matt Johnson and Tanner Bell.
Hunter Marcum scored the other run in the inning on Sanders double to left, after he had punched a leadoff double to left-center on Slavens’ third pitch of the game.
The Braves added two more runs in the second on Sanders’ one-out RBI single and Matt Johnson’s run-scoring double into the left field corner off the second Stillwater pitcher, Brett McNaughton, and the lead grew to 9-0 in the third on Moses Isham’s two-run single just inside the third-base bag.
Stillwater (16-14), which entered Wednesday’s action riding a four-game winning streak, scored three ugly runs in the fourth with the help of two of the Braves’ three errors in the game. The only hits in the rally were an RBI single by Hayden Siefert to score Shane Brinker (who reached on an error leading off) and a perfect bunt single by Dakota Semrad that loaded the bases ahead of Edward Layton’s one-out sacrifice fly that plated Siefert with the final Stillwater run.
The Braves answered with four hits and three runs (one earned) in the bottom of the inning. Jake Sanders led off with his third hit of the game — a bunt single to the left side — and scored on Dylan Tinkler’s one-out double to the wall in right-center. Tinkler scored on Tanner Bell’s single to center, and after a Stillwater error, Cody Robinson (running for Bell, the Ada catcher), scored the final run in the inning on Brandon Maggia’s fly-ball single to left.
Benedict then retired the top three hitters in the Stillwater lineup — Brian Robles, Brinker and Tripp Calloway — on 12 pitches to end the game on the run rule.
Eight of Ada’s nine starters had at least one hit, with Sanders finishing 3-for-3 and Bell and Maggia added two hits apiece to pace the Braves’ 12-hit attack. Semrad finished 2-for-2 for Stillwater.
Ada Braves 12, Stillwater 4
Ada starter Dalton Pickering struck out five in two innings and handed off a 4-1 lead to reliever Jordan Scott to start the third, but Scott surrendered hits to five of the seven batters he faced and left after Austin Hannum’s two-out RBI single to left tied the score.
Matt Johnson took the mound at that point and coaxed a fielder’s choice ground ball from Tyler Couch to end the inning, and once again the Braves answered immediately, scoring six times in the bottom of the inning.
Maggia followed a one-out walk to Bell with a no-doubt home run to right on the next pitch to make it 6-4. Robinson doubled one pitch later, then Kade Curry hit a ground ball to third. Hannum, the Stillwater third baseman, tried to pick Robinson off second instead of going to first, but Robinson was safe.
Brinker, the third of five Stillwater pitchers in the game, walked Dylan Johnson to load the bases, and Robinson scored on a passed ball ahead of Marcum’s double to the wall in dead center field that swelled the Ada lead to 9-4. Marcum scored the final run in the inning on a passed ball.
Matt Johnson (1-1) struck out the side in the fourth, and the Braves added a run in the bottom of that inning on a one-out walk to Maggia, a single by Robinson, a walk to Curry and Dylan Johnson’s fielder’s choice grounder.
After Tinkler hit the first batter he faced and walked the second on five pitches to start the fifth, Marcum came on to put out the fire. Dylan Johnson turned a nice 6-3 double play on a ground ball by Siefert, then Marcum retired Carlsward on a shot back to the mound.
“Today was a good day to get our bullpen some work,” Graham said. “Matt and Hunter both came in and did a good job.”
Ada ended the game in the bottom of the fifth, when Matt Johnson tripled to the wall in center off the fourth Stillwater pitcher — Slavens — and Tinkler squeezed him home on the first pitch he saw from Melton, the final Stillwater hurler of the day.
The Braves scored four unearned runs in the first inning, with Logan and Curry singling home the final two runs. Stillwater touched Pickering for a run in the second on one-out doubles by Carlsward and Hannum on consecutive pitches, and McNaughton and Calloway delivered RBI doubles ahead of Hannum’s RBI single in the third.
Robinson’s three hits keyed a 10-hit Ada attack in which eight different players got at least one hit amd the other two spots in the lineup accounted for two runs scored and an RBI. Marcum, Tinkler and Maggia had two RBIs apiece in the win.
Hannum was 2-for-2 and had one of four doubles for Stillwater, which finished with seven hits but none over the final two innings.
Ada Braves Boxes
At East Central University
Ada Braves 12, Stillwater 3
STILLWATER 000 30 — 3 4 2
ADA BRAVES 522 3x — 12 12 3
Dalton Slavens, Brett McNaughton (1), Hunter Gaes (4) and Dakota Semrad. Matt Benedict and Tanner Bell. WP-Benedict (6-2). LP-Slavens. HR-Blake Logan (A). 2B-Brian Robles (S); Hunter Marcum, Jake Sanders, Matt Johnson, Dylan Tinkler (A). HL-Hayden Siefert 1-2, RS, RBI; Semrad 2-2 (S); Sanders 3-3, 3 RS, 2 RBIs; Marcum 1-3, RS; M. Johnson 1-2, RS, RBI; Tinkler 1-3, RBI; Bell 2-2, Logan 1-2, 2 RS, 4 RBIs; Brandon Maggia 2-3, RS, RBI; Moses Isham 1-3, 2 RBIs (A).
Ada Braves 12, Stillwater 4
STILLWATER 013 00 — 4 7 1
ADA BRAVES 406 11 — 12 10 0
Edward Layton, Shane Brinker (3), Hunter Gates (4), Dalton Slavens (4), Nathan Melton (5) and Tyler Couch. Dalton Pickering, Jordan Scott (3), Matt Johnson (3), Dylan Tinkler (5), Hunter Marcum (5) and Tinkler, Pickering (5). WP-Johnson (1-1). LP-Brinker. HR-Brandon Maggia (A). 3B-M. Johnson (A). 2B-Brett McNaughton, Dustin Carlsward, Austin Hannum (S); Cody Robinson, Marcum (A). HL-McNaughton 1-2, RS, RBI; Calloway 1-2, RS, RBI; Hannum 2-2, RBI; Carlsward 1-3, RS; Gates 1-2, RS (S); Robinson 3-3, RS; Marcum 1-3, RS, 2 RBIs; M. Johnson 1-2, RS, RBI; Tinkler 1-2, 2 RBIs; Tanner Bell 1-2, 2 RS; Blake Logan 1-1, RS, RBI; Brandon Maggia 1-1, 2 RS, 2 RBIs; Kade Curry 1-2, RS, RBI (A).