Little things continued to cause big problems for the Ada Post 72 Braves in Sunday’s home doubleheader with Muskogee Three Rivers at East Central University.
First-year coach Chris Montgomery’s young squad squandered its second outstanding pitching performance in three games in Sunday’s opener, managing just five hits in a 3-0 loss in which two of Three Rivers’ runs were unearned; in the nightcap, Ada miscues helped the visitors to an 8-1 lead en route to handing the Braves their seventh loss in eight games, 8-5.
The sweep left Three Rivers — which lost just two players from last year’s state tournament squad — at 10-5, while the Braves — who returned just four players from last year’s Legion state championship team — fell to 3-7 heading into a road trip to Enid Friday and Saturday.
Three Rivers 3, Ada Braves 0
Ada’s Tyler Robinson and Taz Marris combined on a six-hitter, but Three Rivers lefty Jordan Pendergraft allowed more than one baserunner in an inning just twice in an mpressive complete-game effort. The Braves got runners as far as second only three times, and each time Pendergraft snuffed out the rally.
Brandon Maggia doubled to left-center with one out in the second but didn’t advance any farther; Cody Robinson doubled and moved to third when Trucker Lee reached on an error with two outs in the third, but Nolan Fanning grounded out to end that threat; and Maggia singled leading off the seventh and was safe at second on a fielder’s choice ground ball by Mason Girdley, but Pendergraft breezed through the bottom third of the Post 72 order to preserve the shutout.
Hunter Harrison singled home Three Rivers’ only earned run in the game with two outs in the first inning — after Robinson had walked Pendergraft on five pitches leading off the game. The visitors added an unearned run on a leadoff single by Eric Kirkpatrick and a two-out error, and they wrapped up the scoring with another unearned run in the seventh off Marris on a two-out error and a line drive to center by Ryan Helsley that was misplayed into an RBI double.
Tyler Robinson (1-1) allowed five hits — four singles and a one-out double by Helsey in the fifth — and struck out four in his five innings of work to take the tough-luck loss. Pendergraft struck out four and didn’t walk a better in his seven innings on the mound.
Three Rivers 8, Ada Braves 5
Three Rivers bunched eight of its 12 hits in the first four innings to build its big early lead. Ada starter Caleb Dubler surrendered a first-inning run on a one-out infield single by Dace Gragg, a stolen base and Kirkpatrick’s RBI single, then the visitors scored another run in the second without a hit.
With one out in the second, Justin Ferrell struck out on a pitch in the dirt, and he raced all the way to second when Post 72 catcher Tim Simpson couldn’t find the ball. Ferrell advanced to third on a wild pitch, and he scored the game’s second run on a groundout.
Ada cut the deficit in the half in the bottom of the inning on Fanning’s leadoff double to center, Scott Johnson’s sacrifice bunt and Tim Johnson’s sacrifice fly to center, but Three Rivers answered with three runs in the top of the third with the help of two of the Braves’ three errors in the game.
Pendergraft started the rally with a double into the right field corner and scored on Dubler’s errant pickoff attempt, and Gragg — who had legged out another infield single and had raced all the way to third on the error — scored on an error on Kirkpatrick’s line drive to deep left. Kirkpatrick scored the third run in the inning on Harrison’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Three Rivers lead swelled to 8-1 in the fourth. Dubler started the inning by walking Trey Gatzman on five pitches and was relieved by Caleb Martin, who was greeted by a bunt single from nine-hole hitter Porky Roberts. Both runners moved up a sacrifice by Pendergraft, and Kyle Helsey (running for Gatzman, the Three Rivers catcher) scored when Gragg slapped an 0-1 pitch up the middle for a single.
Kirkpatrick lined another 0-1 offering to center past a drawn-in Ada infield for a single to plate the final two Three Rivers runs of the game, then Martin coaxed a double play ball off the bat of Harrison to avoid further damage. Martin allowed four hits over the final three-plus innings, and his defense helped out with a couple of nice plays — the first a leaping grab of a line drive by Lee, the Ada shortstop, on a line drive by Roberts leading off the sixth, and the second a throw from right by Marris to double off Ryan Helsey (who was running on the pitch) after he caught Harrison’s fly ball to right.
The Braves, who had managed more than one hit just three times in their previous 22 innings, too advantage of a wild streak by Three Rivers starter Cody Medlin to scratch out two runs in the bottom of the fourth, and they added two more in the fifth (one earned) off Ryan Helsley to make it a game.
Fanning, who was 2-for-3 and scored three runs in the loss, walked with one out in the fourth, moved to second on Medlin’s errant pickoff attempt, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a clutch two-out single by Stonewall’s Jordan Curtis.
Phillip Langley, who had walked with two outs as a pinch hitter, moved to second on a passed ball and to third on the single by Curtis before scoring the second run in the inning on a wild pitch. Lee reached on an error leading off the fifth and raced to third on a one-out single by Fanning. Scott Johnson plated the first run in the inning with a single to left-center, and Fanning scored the second on the front end of a double steal.
Martin walked with one out in the sixth and was erased at second on Scott Johnson’s ground ball to shortstop, but the relay to third was high, and Johnson attempted to advance to second. Gatzman backed up the play, however, and fired a strike to Harrison, the Three Rivers shortstop, to complete a 6-4-2-6 double play. Maggia reached on an error with one out in the seventh, but he was also wiped out on an inning-ending double play started by Fanning’s ground ball to Harrison.
Gragg finished 3-for-4 from the two-hole, and Pendergraft, Kirkpatrick and Helsey (the 1-3-4 hitters in the Three Rivers lineup) added two hits apiece. As a group, the top four hitters in the batting order were a combined 9-for-15 with five runs scored and five RBIs in the win.