CNHI News Services
It was not a pleasant feeling for Chris Ramsey. After Team Ohio allowed Team Oklahoma to make a stunning six-run comeback Tuesday, the Valparaiso-bound outfielder said he didn’t sleep much the next few nights.
However, Ohio got another chance to erase the memories of their collapse when it faced Oklahoma again Friday night in the semifinals of the Heartland Baseball Classic at Norman North. And once again, it looked like Ohio would let one slip away. Instead, it found a way to hold off a hard charging Oklahoma squad and win 7-6.
“It was in my head from the beginning of the game,” Ramsey said. “That definitely haunted me for a couple of nights for sure. But this win and knocking Oklahoma out erases it 100 percent.”
Ohio will face defending champion Texas at 3:30 p.m. today at Norman High in the Heartland championship. It’s the first time in 15 years for them to make it this far.
Oklahoma, which played for the championship last year, will take on Maryland at noon for third place. It’s a bit of a come-down for the host squad, particular after it began the tournament with four straight wins.
“We made a few errors, we started off slow,” Oklahoma’s Tre Edwards said. “We can’t wait until the last inning every time to come back. That only happens a couple of times.”
Oklahoma, which beat Arkansas in the quarterfinals, did its best to create a second instant classic of the tournament when it found itself trailing Ohio 7-2 in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded.
Ohio brought in Jordan Groshean to pitch. Groshean took the loss the first time the two teams met.
Gavin Lavalley smashed a two-run double to right field that cut Ohio’s lead to 7-4. Matt Whatley added a run-scoring single to get Oklahoma within two runs. After an Ohio error made it 7-6, Isaac Hollihan came to the plate with bases loaded, two outs and a chance to tie it or win it. Instead, Grosjean got him to pop out.
“That was awesome to hold on,” Ohio coach Jeff Mielcarek said. “We never talked about it with the kids, about what happened the other day. But I know the kids were talking about a five-run lead, here we go again. Fortunately, today, we got the last out.”
Ohio struck early, loading the bases in the first inning against Oklahoma pitcher Holden Lyons. After Gage Trahan played Jake Krypar’s single into a two-base error, Ohio led 3-0.
Lavalley and Whatley answered for Oklahoma to make it 3-2.
In the top of the fourth inning, Ohio scored four runs on three hits. The inning included RBIs from Alex Young and Wayne Naida, but defense proved costly to Oklahoma. After Naida knocked in a run, Lavalley’s throw to third was off the mark and allowed anther to score, putting Ohio up 7-2.
“We didn’t want to do the same thing we did last game,” Ramsey said. “We already knew what to expect. We were ready to finish this one out for sure.”
Four Oklahoma errors gave Ohio a head start.
“We had some miscues out there,” Oklahoma’s Stevie Thompson said. “We didn’t play to our ability. If we played them again, we would probably beat them.
“It’s very tough to know we weren’t mentally in the game. I wish we could play them again. But we are going to live with it.”