Claremore Daily Progress

March 9, 2010

Zebras skipper collects 500th victory

Larry Larkin
Progress Sports Correspondent

TULSA — Base hits were few and the runs plentiful as Claremore presented Brent Payne his 500th victory as a high school baseball coach.

The Zebras rolled over Mannford, 12-4, Saturday afternoon during the four-game Claremore Festival at Legendary Legion Field. 

Claremore had only three hits in four-plus innings of play, but still ended the game on the eight-run rule in the fifth. 

Ten runners scored after drawing walks or being hit by a Mannford pitcher during the afternoon contest.

Tone of the game was set in the bottom of the first inning as Claremore jumped out to a three-run lead without the benefit of a base hit. 

Still it was a Blake Mallory double with one out in the fifth inning that brought the game to a merciful ending.  His line drive between the Pirate center and right fielders allowed Ryan Staggs and Clay Debban to score and reach the needed run rule margin.

Earlier in the same inning V.J. Ray, Steve Harmon, and Travis Stafford each scored from third base on passed balls.

Claremore took full advantage of Mannford starter Patrick Garner's wildness.  The lefthander threw 126 pitches in the 4 1/3 innings he worked.  He struck out nine batters but also walked 10 and hit four others. 

In the meantime the Zebras used three pitchers who combined to allow four runs while scattering  six hits.  Harmon was credited with the victory.  Replacing starter Travis Teague in the third with the bases loaded and one out, he ended the Mannford threat with minimal damage with a sacrifice fly ball and a strikeout.

Stafford came on in the fifth to relieve Harmon and get the final two outs.

Claremore (4-0) remained undefeated by stopping Harrison, Arkansas, 10-5, in the Festival nightcap. 

Stafford led the Zebra offense with a pair of doubles and a single.

Once again Payne elected to use a trio of pitchers as Byron Schroeder, Justin Romaine, and closer Stafford shared mound duty.

In other Festival action Miami defeated Mannford, 6-4, and Harrison upended Miami, 10-5.

Coach Payne was presented a special plaque of recognition at the conclusion of his milestone victory.  A graduate of Sperry High School, he played for renowned baseball coach Bill Fisher.

Now in his 23rd year as a head coach, this is his second time with the Zebras.  He returned a year ago to take over the baseball program and accepted duties as Athletic Director this school year. Payne entered Saturday's games with a 499-199 record.