Eddie Collins will have some unexpected free time on his hands this week.

Collins, who for almost a quarter-century has directed one of Oklahoma’s most successful small-school baseball programs at Latta High School, saw his streak of 11 straight spring state tournament appearances and three straight titles ended abruptly Friday afternoon when his fifth-ranked Panthers were shut out, 2-0, by unranked Amber-Pocasset in the championship game of the Class 2A regional tournament at Latta.

“It is disappointing — we expected to play next week,” said Collins, who fell short of the state tournament for only the third time in 24 years at Latta and for the first time since 1994. “We just didn’t take care of business.

“I’m in a bind now,” he added. “My wife will have me doing stuff at home.”

Collins’ young Panthers (who had just two seniors on the roster) battled to stay above .500 all season while playing one of the state’s toughest schedules this spring, and they put themselves in an early hole at the regional with a 7-2 first-round loss to Wynnewood Thursday.

Latta came back to beat Dibble, 11-0, behind senior ace pitcher Kolbie Brown and crushed Wynnewood, 14-0, in an elimination game early Friday, but the Panthers wasted several scoring opportunites and a four-hitter from Brown — who came back to pitch a complete game after throwing 65 pitches against Dibble — in the loss to Am-Po.

In the area’s other 2A regional, Coalgate advanced to Monday’s rain-delayed title game with a pair of victories Friday at Colbert — 14-1 over Strother/Varnum and 15-5 over Healdton.

Coalgate — ranked No. 6 in 2A — will play the winner of an elimination game between Healdton and Colbert scheduled to be played at 1 p.m. Monday at Coalgate. Friday’s games were moved to Colbert because of a wet field at Coalgate, and Wilkinson said his field was still under water Saturday afternoon.

“It looks pretty wet,” Wilkinson said. “If we don’t get any more rain we have a chance to play. At this point, it doesn’t matter to me where I play. I just want to play somewhere.”

At Latta

Championship

Amber-Pocasset 2, Latta 0

“We had a great pitching performance, and, if we had taken care of business, we would have been in good shape,” Collins said. “Kolbie made one bad pitch the whole game (allowing a run-scoring double on a 2-2 count with two outs in the third inning and an unearned run in the sixth). He threw lights-out. Kolbie’s up there with some of the best pitchers I’ve had.

“(Brown) told me he was ready to come back,” said Collins, noting that Brown (who struck out 12 Friday and finished the spring 7-4) had never started on consecutive days in his varsity career. “We were in a situation where, if we had won that game, it would have been advantage-us, and he really stepped up.”

But Latta left the bases loaded in the sixth, wasting a first-and-third, one-out opportunity, and Am-Po starter Josh Howard (who finished with 11 strikeouts) fanned the side in the first after Dude Brown led off the game with a single and reached second base with nobody out.

“It was a very winnable game,” Collins said. “I’m not taking anything away from (Howard), but we’ve seen at least 10 as good as or better than him this spring. We just did not get it done.”

Loser’s Bracket

Latta 14, Wynnewood 0

Kolbie Brown went 4-for-4 with two home runs, a double and six RBIs, and younger brother Dalton teamed with Roy Terry for a four-hitter over five innings as the Panthers avenged their earlier loss to Wynnewood with the run-rule victory.

After hitting a two-run homer to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead in the first, Kolbie Brown added a three-run blast to highlight a five-run second inning and an RBI double in Latta’s two-run fourth. Dalton Brown also had a solo home run, and Jay Husband, Dude Brown, Roy Terry and Kory Hayes had two hits apiece to key a 16-hit Latta attack.

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