Latta’s trip through the Edmond Tournament turned from the sublime to the ridiculous Thursday night at Edmond North High School.
The Panthers — ranked No. 3 in Class 2A and the only team in the tournament field not from Class 6A — started their day with an impressive 11-2 victory over 6A No. 5 Westmoore before dropping a bizarre 11-10 decision to 6A No. 15 Edmond North in the nightcap. Thursday’s split left Latta at 13-7 on season and, coupled with Wednesday’s 17-2 loss to 6A No. 3 Edmond Santa Fe, at 1-2 in Pool A heading into today’s (2:30 p.m.) contest with Norman High.
Lefty Taylor Dunnigan scattered 10 hits, pitched out of several huge jams and was backed by a 13-hit attack in the win over Westmoore, then North (10-11) overcame a staggering 10 errors — including six in the seventh inning alone to fuel a seven-run rally that gave the Panthers a short-lived 10-9 lead — before scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh to hand Latta one of its strangest losses ever.
Latta 11, Westmoore 2
Pitching in Edmond obviously brings out the best in Dunnigan, who pitched the Panthers to their only victory at the 2010 Edmond Tournament — a 10-0 trouncing of another top-10 team from 6A, Norman North. Although he wasn’t as dominant Thursday as he had been a year earlier, Dunnigan was plenty good enough.
Westmoore (17-8) had baserunners in every inning except the fifth, but the Jaguars stranded 10 and managed to push across only single runs in the third — on a solo home run by Justin Prine — and the sixth.
Brett Beasley followed Prine’s blast with a double to the wall in left-center but was stranded when losing pitcher Mike Brewster grounded out; in the sixth, three singles — the third an RBI hit to right by Josh Terrell — produced Westmoore’s second run, and a fourth single loaded the bases. But heady defensive plays by shortstop Dylan Tinkler and third baseman Reed Johnson cut down runners at third and home, and pinch-hitter Cameron Knight grounded out to Johnson to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Westmoore also squandered scoring threats in the second inning, when Torey Hart hit a leadoff triple to the wall in right-center but was gunned down at the plate by Johnson on Trevor Thompson’s one-out bouncer to third, and in the seventh, when Dunnigan’s only two walks of the game and Beasley’s fourth hit of the night loaded the bases with two outs before Terrell hit into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
The Panthers, meanwhile, banged out seven extra-base hits, including home runs by Colton Engle and Jake Collins, against Brewster — the Jaguars’ No. 1 starter — and two relievers. Latta took the lead for good in the third, when Kade Hayes drew a leadoff walk and Deryk Ronk and Tinkler roped two-out RBI doubles to left-center on consecutive pitches to make it 2-0.
After Prine’s one-out homer over the 385-foot sign in dead-center in the bottom of the third cut the lead in half, the Panthers gave Dunnigan some breathing room in the fourth on leadoff singles by Engle and Collins, Chad Bigham’s RBI double to left-center and Hayes’ sac fly to right.
Dunnigan worked around a two-out single by Thompson in the fourth and retired the Jaguars in order in the fifth before Engle’s third hit of the game — a no-doubt blast over the fence in left-center — extended the lead to 5-2. And after Dunnigan sidestepped a big inning in the the bottom of the sixth, the Panthers put the game away with a six-run outburst in the top of the seventh highlighted by Tinkler’s second RBI double of the game, a two-run double to the wall in center by leadoff hitter Bryce Harris and Collins’ majestic two-run shot just inside the left field foul pole.
Engle added a sac fly in the seventh and finished 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs while Harris, Tinkler and Collins added two hits apiece and combined for three runs scored and six RBIs.
Edmond North 11, Latta 10
Latta’s last nine runs — two in the third and all seven (on just three hits) in the seventh — were unearned off tough-luck North starter Garrett Molinsky, who was relieved by eventual winning pitcher Hunter Dayler after surrendering an RBI single to Dunnigan that plated Collins with the fifth run in the seventh and a soft single to center by Hayes.
Bigham, who had reached base on the fourth error in the inning, scored the tying run all the way from first with the help of a throwing error on Dunnigan’s hit, with Dunnigan advancing to second. Hayes followed with his single to bring on Dayler, who quickly jumped ahead of Harris 0-2 before walking the Latta leadoff hitter at the end of a tough nine-pitch at-bat to load the bases.
Brandon Mills hit a fly ball to right that plated Bigham with the go-ahead run, and Harris advanced to second when the throw from right field took a huge bounce over North third baseman Zach Barton for the sixth and final miscue in the frame. Latta’s at-bat then ended suddenly on a fittingly bizarre play.
With one out and runners at second and third, Tinkler — who already had two hits in the game, including his third double of the night — slapped an 0-1 pitch up the middle. North second baseman Sean Nobles fielded the ball, looked toward Hayes at third and double-clutched before finally firing to first to retire Tinkler on a bang-bang play for the second out.
Hayes feinted toward home, then Harris took off for third and was about two-thirds of the way there when Hayes started back toward the bag. When Husky first baseman Karter Kersten started across the diamond with the ball, Hayes broke for the plate and was retired easily to complete an unusual 4-3-2 double play.
Brett Jennings, the third Latta pitcher, hit Nobles with his first pitch in the bottom of the seventh, and after a sacrifice, he surrendered a single to Joe Robinson and an RBI double to Mike Hernandez before walking Barton intentionally to load the bases. Gibson then lined a 1-2 pitch to deep center field for a walkoff single.
The game had very little drama — or action — until the seventh, though.
Johnson, Latta’s starting pitcher, walked three of the first five batters he faced and hit another before surrendering a two-run single to Gibson to cap North’s four-run first-inning rally. Nobles led off the second with a single, then two walks sandwiched around the first of two Latta errors ignited a three-run second-inning outburst capped by Barton’s two-run single.
Freshman Brady Johnson relieved his older brother one pitch after Barton’s hit and didn’t allow a run until the fifth, when Jennings came on with runners at first and second and a 2-0 count on Nobles. Jennings went on to walk Nobles and surrender a two-run single to Robinson to make it 9-3.
Latta had scored two unearned runs in the third to pull to within 7-3, but the Panthers managed just two hits — back-to-back one-out singles by Harris and Ronk in the fourth — off Molinsky until the seventh.
Tinkler finished 2-for-4 to pace the Panthers’ seven-hit attack, while Gibson was 3-for-5 and joined Robinson and Barton with three RBIs apiece for the Huskies. Kersten also had three hits in the win.