By BOB FORREST
BYNG — When their teams last met on April 14, Sulphur lefthander Tanner Chitwood and Latta ace Kolbie Brown combined to allow just four hits in six innings before Sulphur eked out an ugly 3-2 extra-inning victory in a game that featured five unearned runs.
Thursday, Chitwood and Brown were dominant again, surrendering just five total hits in 13 innings of work and getting key hits of their own to lead Sulphur and Latta to opening-round victories in Byng’s Hill-Prescott Memorial Tournament and into a rematch at 5 p.m. today in the tourney’s first semifinal.
Chitwood, one of the state’s top pitching prospects, struck out 11 and allowed three hits in the Bulldogs’ 4-0 victory over Glenpool, then Brown — who hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last three starts — combined with younger brother Dalton on a two-hitter as Latta (No. 2 in 2A) blanked Class 4A No. 11 Seminole, 5-0.
Latta 5, Seminole 0
Kolbie Brown issued a walk in four of the six innings he worked and threw a career-high 113 pitches, but he also struck out nine and allowed only a fly-ball double to Jon Ervin in the second and a single to Wes May in the sixth — both with two outs. The Latta righthander also drove home the only run he needed with a two-out first-inning double to the wall in center field to score Jay Husband, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and who would come back to deliver key hits in two-run Latta rallies in both the second and fourth innings.
Husband singled home Roy Terry (who had doubled with one out) and Dude Brown (who was hit by a pitch) with a clutch two-out single to right in the second to make it 3-0, then he singled home Dude Brown (who led off the inning by beating out an infield hit on a routine grounder to short) with one out in the fourth and scored the Panthers’ final run on Dalton Brown’s double to left-center.
Latta stranded 12 baserunners and left the bases loaded in the fourth and seventh innings, but the five-run cushion was more than enough for Kolbie Brown, who, along with Chitwood, has established himself as one of the area’s top four or five pitchers this spring.
Seminole had runners in scoring position in the first five innings, but Brown always came up with the pitch he needed.
“Kolbie always gives us a chance to win,” veteran Latta coach Eddie Collins said after watching his club improve to 9-9 this spring. “He had good stuff tonight, but he threw too many pitches early in the game.
“We have to get a good game out of Jay (Husband) or Dalton (Brown) tonight so we can solidify that second spot in the rotation,” Collins added. “And we’re still leaving too many men on base.”
Sulphur 4, Glenpool 0
Chitwood struck out 11 with a fastball that reached 91 miles per hour and a breaking ball that he was throwing for strikes all day, and he drove in all four of his team’s runs with a first-inning sacrifice fly and a long three-run homer in the fifth.
Glenpool got a runner to third with one out in the first before Chitwood struck out Landin Boler and Joseph Mann to end the threat, and the big lefthander struck out Boler and retired Mann on a grounder to shortstop Mat Wolf with runners at second and third in the third.
Chitwood, who allowed infield hits to Zurrard Murray in the first and third and before retiring Glenpool in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, surrendered a one-out double to Matt Pendergrass in the seventh but came back to retire Richard Waldrop on a tapper back to the mound and struck out Dustin Hutchinson to end the game.
Sulphur (17-9) scored on a first-inning run without a hit with the help of two Glenpool errors, then, after Chitwood and Glenpool starter Jason Estes dueled through the next four innings, Estes surrendered a one-out walk to Ryan Trussell and a single to Nathan Scaggs befor Chitwood crushed a first-pitch fastball for a home run that landed on the street beyond the left field fence and bounced onto the roof at the west end of Byng’s Bill Koller Fieldhouse.
By BOB FORREST