The Ada News
The Byng Pirates accepted pretty much all the help the visiting Asher Indians could give them Tuesday at newly remodeled Stokes Field. And they needed most of it, because Asher ace Zach Fowler wasn’t being much help at all.
Fowler (8-1) allowed just one earned run in an 86-pitch, complete-game effort against Class 4A’s No. 2 team, but a critical mistake helped Byng push across three unearned runs in the second inning, and seniors Jake Wellington and Clint Humphers made the lead stand up for a 4-0 Pirate victory.
“Our seniors stepped up and threw the ball well,” Byng coach Shawn Streater said after seeing Wellington (6-0) allow two hits over five innings and Humphers give up one hit over the final two to earn the save. “Jake knew this was one of his last starts on this field. We gave him a lead, and he held it.”
Fowler struck out the first two batters he faced in the second inning on seven pitches, but Humphers reached when Asher left fielder Tim Johnson lost his routine fly ball in the sun and it fell for a single. Byng nine-hole hitter Matt Wescott then hit a roller to the right side, but he was awarded first base on catcher’s interference, and Reid Wall was hit with an 0-2 pitch to load the bases.
Pirate first baseman Cody Williams — who saved his infielders at least three errors by digging out low throws during the game — fell behind 0-1, but he lined Fowler’s second pitch into right-center for a two-run single. Wall moved to third and scored the final run in the inning on the front end of a delayed double steal.
Byng added a run in the third, when sophomore catcher Joe Nemecek drew a leadoff walk and was replaced at first by courtesy runner Derek Jackson. Wellington lined a single to center, and he and Jackson moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Andre Davis, who was also safe at first when Fowler couldn’t pick up the bunt. Seven-hole hitter Kiyaanii Bohan grounded a single to the left side through the drawn-in Asher infield to plate Jackson with Byng’s fourth run.
The Pirates wasted a chance for a big inning, though, when Humphers struck out looking at a 1-2 fastball and Dineh Bohan — running for Wellington — was caught in a rundown and tagged out after Wescott couldn’t lay down a suicide squeeze on a high Fowler pitch. Fowler then struck out Wall to end the inning.
“The bottom of the order did their job,” Streater said. “We knew were were going to have to scratch out some runs against Fowler. If we can compete with him, we can compete with anybody we’ll see in (Class) 4A.”
After allowing six hits and stranding six baserunners through three innings, Fowler didn’t give up a hit and needed just 32 pitches to breeze through the Pirates over the final three. But the Indians (No. 5 in Class B) simply couldn’t break through against Wellington and Humphers.
Wellington worked around a leadoff infield single by Caleb Dubler and an error that sent Dubler to second with nobody out in the second inning, and he pitched out of a huge jam in the fourth. Johnson reached on a one-out error (one of five by the Pirates in the game), then Trent Boles lined a single to center and Corey Holman walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. But Wellington struck out Hunter Fowler after a tough nine-pitch at-bat and retired Sean Fleming on a ground ball to Williams at first to kill the threat.
Zach Fowler reached on an error leading off the fifth but was stranded at third when Dubler struck out swinging at a 1-2 breaking pitch to end the inning. Johnson, the first batter to face Humphers, singled to right-center leading off the sixth but was erased in a slick 6-4-3 double play started by Wall at shortstop and turned by second baseman Jake Scroggins, then Humphers pitched around two errors in the seventh, striking out the side to seal the win.
Byng returns to action Thursday, hosting Glenpool in the first round of the David Hill-Ryan Prescott Memorial Tournament. Asher — which lost its third straight game, all to ranked teams (after winning 14 straight), to fall to 21-6 — will host Wanette in a Class B District Tournament beginning Thursday.