Host Byng started Thursday’s opening round of the Hill-Prescott Memorial Tournament with an impressive victory. Old rival Latta finished it in a fog.
Byng (ranked No. 16 in Class 4A) began the day by manhandling 16th-ranked Seminole, 8-2, and after victories by Glenpool (6-0 over Sulphur) and Coalgate (6-3 over defending champion McLoud), Latta squared off with Kingston in the final opening-round contest.
But fog rolled in between the third and fourth games of the day, and after the Panthers and Redskins each scored an ugly first-inning run (Kingston with the help of a fly ball by pitcher Caleb McDonald that Latta right fielder Brandon Mills lost in the fog for a double), Thursday’s finale was suspended. The game was scheduled to begin again at 9:30 a.m. today to kick off what suddenly became a long second day for tournament officials and teams.
With a win, Latta (No. 3 in Class 2A) would advance to face Glenpool in today’s first semifinal at 4 p.m.; with a loss, the Panthers will meet Sulphur (No. 10 in Class 3A) in a marquee loser’s bracket contest at 1:30. The remainder of today’s schedule has McLoud facing Seminole in an elimination game at 11 a.m. and Byng and Coalgate closing out the second round in today’s second semifinal at 6:30.
Coalgate 6, McLoud 3
Coalgate (20-5) finally snapped a scoreless tie with a two-run fourth-inning rally off McLoud freshman righthander Zack Smith ignited by Nolan Fanning’s long leadoff home run to left. After the Redskins took their only lead of the game with three unearned runs in the top of the fifth off Wildcat starter Bradley Stowe (6-0), Coalgate came back with three runs in the bottom of the inning to take command for good.
Ryan Hefley lined Smith’s second pitch in the fifth to the wall in left for a double, and after Fanning was walked intentionally, Smith hit Shay Loudermilk with his next pitch to load the bases. Hefley scored the tying run on a wild pitch, then Stowe lifted a fly ball to the right side that landed in no-man’s land along the right field line just behind first base for an RBI single to plate Fanning with the go-ahead run.
Cody Pebworth followed with a line drive to right for a sacrifice fly to score Loudermilk with the final run in the inning, and Dustin Ybarra lined Smith’s next pitch to the wall in left for a double. But Smith avoided further damage, making a nice running catch on Colby Lackey’s foul pop near the McLoud dugout and — after walking nine-hole hitter Ty Pate for the second straight time — retiring Coalgate leadoff hitter Rhett Acker on a fly ball to right.
The Wildcats added an insurance run in the seventh on Hefley’s leadoff double to right-center, Fanning’s ground ball to the right side and an error on Loudermilk’s fly ball to shallow left.
Smith got two quick outs after Fanning’s homer in the fourth before back-to-back singles by Pebworth and Ybarra and back-to-back walks to Lackey and Pate produced the second run in the inning. But the lead was short-lived.
McLoud nine-hole hitter Dorian Sparks started McLoud’s three-run fifth-inning rally with a one-out bunt single, then Stowe hit Will Olds with a 1-1 pitch. Chance Lay laid down a nice bunt to the left of the mound and reached on an error on the play to load the bases before Stowe struck out Smith on a 3-2 fastball for the second out.
But cleanup hitter James Goad finally came through with a clutch hit off Stowe, lining a 1-2 pitch to right to score Sparks and Johnny Molloy (running for Olds, the McLoud catcher) and tie the game. Lay gave the Redskins the lead when he scored on the front end of a double steal.
Other than the fifth inning, though, Stowe was able to work out of trouble. McLoud had a runner at third and one out in the second and loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but each time Stowe got a strikeout to help kill the rally. Although the big righthander walked three batters and hit two more, he struck out 11 and allowed only four hits in going the distance.
Byng 8, Seminole 2
Seminole took an early lead with an unearned run in the top of the first, but Byng answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning, added three more in the third and cruised to the surprisingly easy victory.
“Considering the (windy) conditions, we played pretty well,” Byng coach Shawn Streater said after seeing his club improve to 16-9. “It was a win over a team ranked ahead of us and team that could be a possible regional match-up for us. We could have done some things better, but overall we played pretty well.”
Clint Humphers and relievers Reid Wall and Ryan Williams combined on a three-hitter, and Jake Wellington and Joe Nemecek had two hits apiece to pace the Pirates’ seven-hit attack. Humphers allowed only one unearned run and struck out nine in his five innings on the mound.