By BOB FORREST
EDMOND — Latta baseball coach Eddie Collins is actually hoping his club will have a rollercoaster ride at the Edmond Wood Bat Tournament. That would mean the Panthers would climb back up from the freefall they’ve been in for the last two games.
After a crisp 8-0 win over Class 6A No. 10 Norman North to open the tournament, the Panthers dropped a mistake-filled 15-3 decision to tournament host (and 6A No. 5) Edmond Memorial in their second game Wednesday. And, if possible, they were even less impressive in a 10-0 run-rule loss to unranked Norman High Thursday afternoon.
“It was the worst effort we’ve put out all year,” Collins said after seeing Norman take advantage of five Latta errors — four in a six-run first inning — to score 10 times on just four hits while Latta (10-6 and ranked No. 4 in Class 2A) managed just two fifth-inning singles against Norman starter Trey Smith. “(Wednesday’s loss) was about throwing strikes, and Edmond Memorial is a pretty good club. Today, I can’t explain it. Norman is an average 6A club, and they put a kid on the mound who was very average.
“We just weren’t ready to play, and that’s my fault — I just didn’t have us ready to play,” he added. “I’ll be shocked if we play that way today (against Moore at 3 p.m. in Latta’s final pool play contest).”
In addition to committing four errors — three on routine ground balls and another on a fly ball to the outfield — in the first inning, the Panthers also botched a rundown and a pickoff, recorded two passed balls that scored runs and misplayed a fly ball into the inning’s only hit — a bases-loaded, three-run double by Smith’s batterymate, Brad Koepp.
Latta ace Tyler Reeves allowed just two hits before giving way to Tyler Pogue in the third and dropped to 2-1 on the season.
“Tyler walked the leadoff guy in the first, but he had a chance to get out of the inning,” Collins said. “He wasn’t lights-out, but we didn’t play any defense behind him.”
Both of the Panthers’ hits — singles by freshman catcher Bryce Harris and pinch-hitter Wyatt Ryan — came in the bottom of the fifth inning, after Norman had scored four times in the top of the fourth.
The tournament continues on Saturday with Latta likely playing in one of two 1 p.m. contests. The Panthers’ tough stretch continues on Monday with a trip to Class A power Silo.