TAHLEQUAH — Like the weather, the sunshine of victory on Friday and early Saturday gave way to a gloomy afternoon for the Tahlequah Tigers as they fell to the Jay Bulldogs, ranked No. 9 in Class 4A by Okrankings.com, 15-0 in the run-rule shortened championship game of the Tiger Classic.
Earlier in the day, things were brighter for the Tigers (11-15) as they defeated Sallisaw Central 4-0 on a pitching gem by Stephen Wheeler, who struck out nine while scattering five hits.
“We didn’t hit the ball very well in either game,” said Tahlequah coach Nick Zodrow. “Wheeler pitched well in the first game to overcome our lack of hitting. But defensive mistakes cost us in the second game against Jay.”
In fact, it was an error by Wheeler, playing third base against Jay, that opened the door for the Bulldogs in the second inning. The error was followed by a walk and a two-run single by Lane Graham to put Jay (23-6) on the scoreboard. Graham tallied the third run of the inning on a hit by the No. 8 batter Kellen Brown.
Tigers’ right hander Houston Glad had major struggles as the game progressed. He gave up two more runs in the third inning on two walks, a sacrifice bunt and a hit. Then the roof fell in on him in the fourth.
After striking out the leadoff man, Glad walked two batters, hit two batters, which forced in a run, and then surrendered a grand slam home run to J.J. Meeks. The Tigers’ pitcher hit two more batters and uncorked a wild pitch in the inning that saw Jay score five runs.
“He (Glad) didn’t have his best stuff, but that’s going to happen and we just have to play better behind him,” said Zodrow. “Defensively I guess we think he’s going to strike everybody out and so we’re just not ready. We’ve got to play better defense when he pitches.”