After kicking the ball around for five-plus innings, the Byng Pirates let their bats, rather than their boots, do their talking in the bottom of the sixth inning of Thursday’s first-round thriller with Glenpool at the Hill-Prescott Memorial Tournament.
Ranked No. 2 in Class 4, the Pirates had committed six errors, had been outhit, 8-4, and trailed 5-2 heading to their last at-bat of the afternoon. But a leadoff walk, a one-out error, a two-run single by sophomore cleanup hitter Joe Nemecek and a dramatic two-run, opposite-field homer by senior Jake Wellington later, Byng had escaped with a dramatic 6-5 victory.
“Some days it’s better to be lucky than good,” Byng coach Shawn Streater said after seeing his club improve to 21-3 heading into tonight’s semifinal showdown with Coalgate — which upset Ada, 8-2, in Thursday’s second game — for a spot in Saturday’s (5 p.m.) championship game. “A senior stepped up again for us. In certain situations, you have to understand the game and step up and do your job.”
Byng 6, Glenpool 5
The hits by Nemecek and Wellington (both left-handed hitters) came off Glenpool lefty Nolan McCutcheon, who cruised into the sixth with a four-hitter and a seemingly comfortable lead that was the direct result of his tie-breaking, three-run double in the fifth off Byng starter Reid Wall. McCutcheon walked Wall, the Byng leadoff hitter, to start the sixth but came back to strike out Cody Williams on three pitches.
Jake Scroggins reached on the third Glenpool error of the game, though, and McCutcheon was shaken up during a collision as he attempted to cover first base on Scroggins’ ground ball to the right side. The Warrior starter stayed in the game to pitch to Nemecek, who jumped ahead 3-1 before lining the fifth pitch of the at-bat to left field for a single to trim the Glenpool lead to a run.
Kyle Price replaced McCutcheon at that point and saw Wellington line his first pitch into a stiff wind and over the fence in left for his first home run of the season to give Byng the win.
“I said I’ve gotta get a fastball and I’m gonna hit it,” Wellington said afterward.
“I told our lefties (Williams, Nemecek, Wellington and Kiyaanii Bohan, who combined to reach base nine times and recorded five of the Pirates’ six hits in the win) all day they had to hit it to left,” Streater said.
Glenpool (8-11) scored unearned runs in the first and third innings on RBI singles by Brandon Edge (and with the help of a Byng error each time), but Wall sidestepped a big inning in the third with the help of an outstanding defensive play of his own. After Edge drove in the second run of the game, Wall walked Price to load the bases, then he struck out Ryan McCutcheon for the first out in the inning.
Tyler Stopp followed with a slow roller to the left side that Wall fielded with his bare hand. He fired a strike across his body to Nemecek at the plate to retire Dusty Hale for the second out, then Nolan McCutcheon grounded an 0-1 pitch to Wellington at third for an unassisted forceout of Price to end the inning.
The Pirates tied the score in the bottom of the third on one-out singles by Nemecek and Wellington and a two-run single to center by freshman Andre Davis. Wall came back to pitch around a one-out walk to work a scoreless fourth, but he ran into trouble right away in the fifth.
Edge started the inning with his third hit, a line drive to right that skipped past Davis. Davis hustled after the ball, however, and gunned down Edge with a perfect throw to Pierce (who started the game at shortstop) covering second base. The play proved huge when Kyle Price, Ryan McCutcheon and Tyler Stopp followed with singles to load the bases, and Nolan McCutcheon chased Wall with his first-pitch, bases-clearing double to left-center.
Pierce relieved Wall and got two quick outs to end the fifth, then he worked around a one-out error in the top of the sixth to earn his fifth straight win and his second of the season in relief after four straight victories as a starter.
Nemecek and Wellington had two hits apiece for the Pirates, while Edge and Nolan McCutcheon accounted for five of Glenpool’s eight hits in the loss.
Coalgate 8, Ada 2
The Wildcats (11-10) jumped on Ada starter Cody Johnson for four straight hits — including an RBI single by Nolan Fanning and a two-run double one pitch later by winning pitcher Ryan Hefley — and three runs in the top of the first, then Johnson settled down and dominated the Coalgate lineup through the middle innings.
Johnson struck the next two batters he faced after Hefley’s double and went on to retire 15 of 16 batters through the fifth inning. But the Cougars (17-6) couldn’t break through against Hefley until the fifth, despite getting leadoff hits in the first three innings and putting runners at first and second — after an error and Easton Pingleton’s single to left — with one out in the fourth.
Ada (which entered the week ranked No. 12 in Class 4A) finally scratched out a run in the bottom of the fifth on Micah Simmer’s leadoff infield single, a one-out walk to Jordan Boone and Tim Simpson’s RBI double to the wall in left. But Johnson struck out on three pitches, and Scott Johnson was retired on a richochet of his line drive off Hefley’s leg directly to Pate at first for the final out.
The only Ada error of the game leading off the sixth then opened the floodgates on a five-run rally that put the game away. After the error, Johnson walked Hefley on four pitches, and Joseph Ward legged out an infield hit on a slow roller to third to load the bases. Cody Hammons followed with a double to the wall in left-center to plate the first two runs in the inning, Ward scored the third on a fielder’s choice ground ball up the middle, and Colby Lackey made it 8-1 with a two-out RBI single to left.
The Cougars scored a run in the bottom of the inning on one-out singles by Pingleton and Walker Whitworth and Micah Simmer’s fielder’s choice grounder, but Hefley came back to retire four of the final five batters he faced to wrap up his 102-pitch effort and seal the win.
Lackey, who finished 2-for-4, was the only Coalgate player with more than one hit, but the top six spots in the lineup combined for seven of the Wildcats’ eight hits, seven of their eight runs and six RBIs.
Pingleton had two of Ada’s eight hits in the loss. The Cougars will face Glenpool in a loser’s bracket contest at 2:30 p.m. today.