Holy Cow, what a game!
Tyler Cagle’s walk-off single to right field plated Bryce Howe in the bottom of the seventh inning late Friday night as the Class 5A No. 2-ranked Claremore Zebras rallied past Springdale (Ark.) Har-Ber, 6-5 in the 4-State Festival at Legendary Legion Field.
The Zebras trailed 5-2 heading into their final at-bat in the home half of the seventh, but managed to get three consecutive walks off three different Har-Ber pitchers.
Matt Whatley, T.J. Wood and Isaac Hollihan each drew full-counts before reaching first on walks to load the bases.
A RBI-single by Claremore junior third-baseman Bryce Howe plated Whatley to make it 5-3. One batter later, Jacob Teague delivered the ‘big hit’ with a two-run double to left-center field that scored Wood and pinch-runner Konnor Dobbins to tie the game at 5-5.
Springdale Har-Ber, ranked No. 3 in Class 7A with a 14-4 record, went to their third pitcher — Brady Patrick — in the inning with Andrew Byington coming up and runners on second and third base.
Patrick managed to get Byington to ground-out to second base for the first out of the inning. Next batter up, Cagle, took the count full before reaching out to drive a single past the Har-Ber second base and into right field, allowing Howe to score the winning run.
Before the dramatic finish by the Zebras in the seventh, Har-Ber celebrated with three runs in the top half of the inning.
A one-out double by Winston Rasmussen off Claremore relief pitcher (Tyler) Cagle and then a RBI-single by Brady Patrick gave Har-Ber its first lead of the game at 3-2.
Gus Vick’s two-run triple to right-center field with two outs extended Har-Ber’s lead to 5-2.
Claremore — who rallied in the first game to beat Kickapoo, Mo. 14-11 after building a 7-0 margin in the first inning — opened the night-cap with a 1-0 lead on Har-Ber in the bottom of the second as Cagle’s two-out sacrifice fly plated Teague, who reached on a walk.
Claremore added another run in the bottom of the third as Whatley drew the lead-off walk, stole second, advanced to third on Hollihan’s fielder’s choice and scored on a passed ball to push the Zebras’ lead to 2-0.
Claremore starting pitcher (Jacob) Teague tossed five innings to earn the no decision after allowing one run on four hits with four walks and nine strikeouts.
Cagle earned the victory, tossing two innings in relief and giving up four runs on four hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Har-Ber cut Claremore’s lead to 2-1 in the top of the fifth after Zach DeShanzo reached first on a two-out walk and later scored on a fielding error by Zebra shortstop T.J. Wood.
Then, in the top of the sixth, Har-Ber tied the game at 2-2 on DeShanzo’s RBI-single that drove in Vick.
Zebras rally for 2 wins in 4-State Festival
Holy Cow, what a game!
When Claremore’s Matt Whatley takes his place behind the plate tonight in the Oklahoma Coaches Association Large School East-West All-State baseball game, the former Zebra catcher will be right at home.
Whatley, who started four years as the catcher for the Zebras, finds his final high school baseball game taking place in his future college ballpark.
Last November, Whatley and his long-time friend, Bryce Howe, signed NCAA Division I baseball scholarships to play for the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles.
Tonight, those dreams come true for Whatley and Jenks outfielder Cadon Owens, who will be joining his former Bearcats teammate on the East squad. Also, Verdigris' Ryan Skalnik will start at third base for the Large East All-State team.
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