OWASSO — With nine trips to the Class 6A finals in the past decade and five state titles earned during that period, one might think that summer baseball at Owasso High School wouldn’t be all that important.
But according to Owasso coaches, nothing could be farther from the truth.
That point was more than illustrated Wednesday night when the Rams’ James Stanfield blasted a walk-off, three-run home run to rally the Rams to a 5-3 victory against Broken Arrow in Diamond Baseball League action at Stigall Field.
“With the Diamond League, we are getting ready to play for next year,” Owasso assistant coach Steve Holleman said.
“While we might not be playing for championships, we are looking for depth. We have no (graduating) seniors on this team. So everyone who is playing this summer is trying to fill holes among the guys who are left from this spring’s team.”
Stanfield, the Rams’ hero against Broken Arrow, is a prime example.
After seeing limited playing time for the Owasso varsity this spring, the second baseman is hoping to land a spot in the starting lineup for the 2007 season.
Besides his game-winning homer, Stanfield notched a single in four plate appearances against Broken Arrow.
“This type of experience, like getting a big hit for us, is valuable to him,” Holleman said of Stanfield, who will be a junior in the fall.
Stanfield’s blast to right-center scored Colby Williams (a courtesy runner for catcher Nick Holson) and Ben Kozma. Like Stanfield, all three — Williams, Holson and Kozma — could figure in Owasso’s varsity plans next season.
Ben Kozma, younger brother of standout shortstop Pete Kozma, had three of Owasso’s nine hits in the game.
Another player who demonstrated against Broken Arrow that he could make an impact on the 2007 club is pitcher Matt Brimer.
A lefthander, Brimer went the distance in the seven-inning game, allowing six hits while striking out 12.
“Matt has never pitched a varsity game in his life,” Holleman said of the rising senior.
“But with Chris Armstrong — the anchor of our staff the last four years — having graduated, we need to find some arms for next year.”
Brimer struck out at least one Tiger in every inning, including the side in the fourth.
Ironically, that was the only inning he was in trouble. He surrendered four straight hits (three doubles and a single) when Broken Arrow scored all of its runs.
The Owasso-Broken Arrow contest was a showdown between two teams that had each lost only one game this summer in Diamond Baseball League play.
“I have been very pleased with our players and the way the league has gone this summer,” said Zach Duffield, another Owasso assistant who has piloted the Rams’ Diamond League team.
Owasso started the DL season fresh off a heartbreaking one-run, extra-inning loss to Union in the Class 6A state finals last month.
The loss in the finals was just the top-ranked Rams’ second setback of the season and the only one to a team from Oklahoma. The Rams were No. 1 in the national USA Today poll at the time.
“It was hard to come back after the Union loss in the state tourney,” Holleman said.
“But the Diamond League season has turned out really well.”
OWASSO 5, BROKEN ARROW 3
Broken Arrow 000 300 0 — 3 6 0
Owasso 100 010 3 — 5 9 2
Moore, Rymel (7) and Rymel, Burgess (7). Brimer and Holson. W — Brimer. L — Moore. HR — Owasso, Stanfield.