Sports Sunday Correspondent
Home, sweet home.
That's how Rogers County Rangers coach Todd Bingham and crew feel about Claremore's Legion Field.
That was the case again Friday night as the Rangers returned home and snapped a two-game losing skid by overcoming Northern Oklahoma College-Enid, 7-6.
Blake Kelley and Curt Simpson, on base with his fifth hit of the game, scored the winning runs in the eighth on an error.
Northern was ahead, 6-5, when Ranger reliever Nathan Gilsleider entered the contest to pitch the eighth and ninth innings. He slammed the door, striking out four while facing seven batters.
"Nathan did a great job for us tonight," Bingham said. "He has come a long way since last summer."
"Coach told me to get ready in the seventh, I was going in the next inning. I felt great out there," Gilsleider said.
Pitching in his third game of the season, the victory was his first decision.
For the Rangers, 8-3 going into a doubleheader Saturday at Midwest City, the win was the seventh of eight games played at home.
The Rangers out-hit Northern, 14-11. They were led by Simpson's three doubles and two singles and a two-run home run by Zane Williams.
Simpson took some good ribbing from his teammates after the game.
"Curt, you're a pitcher, not a hitter," one said.
Before his last at-bat, another said he would bet $5 Simpson couldn't hit a fourth double.
Playing center field, Simpson doubled in the first, third, and seventh innings and had singles in the fifth and eighth.
Williams' homer came in the seventh to pull the Rangers within a run.
With one out in the Ranger eighth, Kelley and Simpson singled. Williams followed with a walk to load the bases. Jeff Bradshaw then hit a sharp grounder to second baseman Shaun Sumter who forced Williams at second. Shortstop Justin Funk's throw to first was wide and high.
Kelley and Simpson scored. Instead of an inning-ending double play, the Rangers had the two runs they needed.
Northern came to town with only nine players. Catcher Matt Gray and first baseman Trent Short are former Claremore Zebras and Sumter is an Oologah product.
"Those college guys are tough, they know how to play," Bingham said.
Northern was stopped by Matt Sparks for the first three innings. The visitors finally broke through with three runs in the fourth. A two-run single by Brandon Mathes in the sixth lifted Northern to a 5-3 lead. The Claremore connection made it 6-3 in the next inning as Gray started the seventh with a double. He scored when Short singled.
The Rangers, returning from Midwest City, will host Girard, Kansas, at 1 p.m. Sunday at Legion Field.
RANGERS 7, NORTHERN 6
Northern 000 302 100 — 6 11 3
Rangers 101 100 22x — 7 14 2
Dickison, Kraeger (7) and Gray. Sparks, Gilsleider (8) and Conger. W — Gilsleider, 1-0. L — Kraeger. HR — Z.Williams.