By BOB FORREST
EDMOND — Latta coach Eddie Collins had been waiting all season for his Panthers to turn in an effort like they did against Class 6A No. 10 Norman North Wednesday afternoon in their opener at the Edmond Wooden Bat Tournament. But he could have waited a little longer for what happened in Game 2.
Sophomore lefty Taylor Dunnigan, just one start removed from his shortest outing of the season in a loss to Healdton six days earlier, shut out Norman North on three scratch hits in arguably the best performance of his career, leading the opportunistic Panthers (No. 4 in Class 2A) to an impressive 8-0 run-rule victory. One game later, though, Latta (10-5) gift-wrapped five first-inning runs and eventually dropped a 15-3 decision to tournament host Edmond Memorial (No. 5 in 6A) in a game that lasted just four innings.
“You’ve got to pitch and you’ve got to catch it,” Collins said after watching his club’s Jekyll-and-Hyde performance.
Latta 8, Norman North 0
Dunnigan (2-1) didn’t survive the first inning against Healdton last Thursday, but he was never in danger of leaving Wednesday’s game. Mixing a nasty change-up that was his bread-and-butter pitch all day with an occasional fastball and breaking pitch, he surrendered only a pair of bloop singles to Miguel Garcia — with two outs in the second inning and nobody out in the fifth — and an infield hit to Blake Randall in the third.
In fact, North (15-8) hit only four balls out of the infield — Garcia’s two hits and a pair of fly balls to center field by Logan Mayhue — and got only two runners in scoring position in the game. Dunnigan walked just one batter — North cleanup hitter Caleb Simpson, who was erased three pitches later on the front end of a nice 6-4-3 double play started by Dylan Tinkler — and struck out two.
“After the Healdton game, we had a little ‘come to the bullpen’ meeting,” Collins said in explaining Dunnigan’s dramatic turnaround. “He threw a bullpen session Friday, and that went pretty well, and his last bullpen was pretty good, too.
“Today he kept the ball down, he threw strikes and he was aggressive,” he added. “He really pitched well against a team that’s a lot better than anybody around our area, other than maybe Roff (No. 1 in Class B) or Silo (No. 1 in 2A).”
The Wolves’ only serious threat came in the fifth, when Dunnigan committed the game’s only error on a tapper back to the mound before surrendering Garcia’s second hit of the game — a towering fly ball that landed in no-man’s land in shallow left-center. But Mayhue popped out to center, Conner Kohlscheen grounded to third, where Tyler Pogue made an unassisted putout of pinch runner Jason Miller, and Blake Randall grounded out to first to end the inning and the game.
Latta, meanwhile, used two-out rallies in the first and fourth innings to build a 5-0 lead and ultimately ended the game on the run rule with three more runs in the fifth.
Colton Engel grounded a single to left to plate Wacey Henderson (who had drawn a leadoff walk) with the game’s first run and scored on double to the wall in dead center field one pitch later by Tyler Reeves. In the fourth, losing pitcher Dakota Shadoan struck out the first two Latta hitters but extended the inning when he missed the bag while covering first base on a ground ball to the right side by freshman Bryce Harris.
Shadoan then hit freshman Jake Collins with an 0-1 pitch and walked Latta nine-hole hitter Dillon Anderson on four pitchers to bring up Henderson, who drilled the first pitch he saw to the wall in left-center for a bases-clearing double to make it 5-0.
In the fifth, Tinkler turned around a 3-1 fastball from Shadoan and lined it over the wall in right for a leadoff home run, Engel lined a single to center, then Shadoan walked Pogue and hit Harris with a pitch to load the bases and bring on reliever Alec Stand. Collins lined Stand’s first pitch up the middle for an RBI single, and Anderson added a sacrifice fly to left to give the Panthers their eight-run cushion.
Latta finished with just six hits, but three went for extra bases and five of the six drove in at least one run.
Edmond Memorial 15, Latta 3
Memorial (15-4) took advantage of a walk, two hit batters and a two-out error to score five times on just two hits in the first inning off Latta starter Dalton Lewis.
Landon Jones, who had an RBI single in the first, added a two-run single in Memorial’s three-run second inning, and his RBI double to right-center followed a two-run triple by Dylan Keester to highlight a five-run third-inning outburst. Drew Dahlberg, who drove in a run in the first with a groundout and doubled and scored in the second, closed out the scoring with monster two-run home run to left in the fourth.
Reed Johnson reached on a fielder’s choice and scored Latta’s first run on a bases-loaded walk to Pogue with two outs in the first, Henderson doubled home Anderson with one in the second, and Tinkler forced in the Panthers’ final run with another bases-loaded walk in the fourth off Memorial starter Preston Harraman.
Jones finished 3-for-3 with four RBIs, and Dahlberg and Keester had two hits and three RBIs apiece for Memorial. Henderson was 2-for-3 to pace Latta’s modest five-hit attack.
Pool play continues in the tournament this afternoon, with Latta facing Norman High at 3 p.m. at Edmond North High School.