YUKON — The Latta Panthers cruised through five innings against Rattan at the Class A State Tournament Thursday afternoon at Yukon High School.
Things got interesting late before No. 11 Latta closed out a 4-2 upset victory over the fifth-ranked Rams.
Latta, now 21-9, advanced to today’s 11 a.m. semifinal game opposite the Silo-Canute winner, while Rattan is finished at 24-6.
Veteran head coach Eddie Collins, while glad to see his team escape with the win, was not pleased with some aspects of the game.
“Up here, you take a win any way you can get it,” Collins told The Ada News following the game.
“I was very disappointed in our outfield play all day long. We turned the wrong way on two fly balls and misplayed two others, and it cost our guy a lot of pitches,” he continued. “It’s not an easy day to play. I understand that. But that is so bad from our outfield. You have to see the ball off the bat.”
That guy that Collins referred to was LHS ace lefty Rylan Reed, who pitched seven solid innings to earn the mound win. He struck out 10, walked none and allowed just three hits and one earned run against a Rams squad that had scored 70 runs in six previous playoff games.
Collins didn’t feel like Reed was sharp early.
“Early in the game, he did not have a very good curveball. Sometimes guys in colder weather tend to have a little bit of trouble with the curveball. For the most part, though, he kept the ball down. He just battled,” he said.
Two RHS pitchers — starter Chuck Odell and reliever Cal Birchfield — combined for 12 strikeouts and three walks. All four runs surrendered by that duo were earned.
Latta struck first in the top of the third when Reed led off with a walk, went to second on a sacrifice and later scored on an RBI groundout by Tucker Abney to put the Panthers on top 1-0.
Latta scored three times in the bottom of the fifth.
It was again Reed who sparked the LHS volley, leading off with a one-out single. He stole second and after Cooper Hamilton was safe on an infield hit, the Rams made an error on the play and Reed scooted down to third base.
Two pitches after Hamilton advanced on a passed ball, DJ Van Atten hit a line drive to center field that pushed two runs across the plate. Van Atten later scored when Justin Kiker was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Latta built a 4-0 lead.
Rattan broke the ice on doubles by AJ Clay and Cal Birchfield that trimmed the LHS lead to 4-1.
Rattan scored its final run in the seventh via two ugly errors in the outfield. The Rams had the tying run at the plate with two outs before Reed slammed the door with a strikeout.