What has gotten into Claremore senior right fielder Isaac Hollihan?
Hollihan’s third-inning grand slam in Thursday’s 5-2 win over Booker T. Washington proved to be the spark needed to keep Claremore on pace for an undefeated season in Metro Lakes Conference play.
After going down in his first at-bat against Booker T. Washington’s Evan Skaggs, Hollihan fell behind 1-2 in the count his second time around.
That fourth pitch, however, was not only a crowd-pleaser, but it was a ‘thing of beauty’ as it left Hollihan’s bat and soared over the Walmart sign in right field at Legion Field.
“At first, I didn’t think it was gone. I thought it was either a sacrifice fly ball or off the wall,” Hollihan said.
The feeling, though, was incredible, according to Claremore’s No. 5 hitter.
Hollihan’s grand slam was the first of his varsity career in a live game. The senior has belted out numerous bombs in practice, and even hit the only homer in batting practice at an Arkansas showcase this past fall at Baum Stadium in Fayettevile.
The timing of his grand slam, however, helped Claremore generate four runs in the third inning and take a 5-0 lead.
Hollihan said he was looking for another curveball down 1-2 in the count.
Skaggs delivered Hollihan a left-handed hook and the rest was history, including the Hornets starting pitcher’s day on the mound.
Until Hollihan’s bomb, Skaggs had kept Claremore’s offense in check with one run on two hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Hollihan added that he attributes his success at the plate to his coaches.
“Coach (Brent) Payne and Coach (Jim) Sherl have been working on my swing all season and sending me footage of my swings for me to study,” Hollihan said.
The lessons have paid off as Hollihan increased his home run total to three Friday with a pair of bombs in the Zebras’ 6-4 win at Booker T. Washington.
Claremore rode the momentum of starting pitcher Bryce Howe early Thursday afternoon, as the junior right-hander retired the Hornets in order with three-straight strikeouts.
Running his fastball across the plate in the high 80s, Howe was untouchable until the top of the third inning.
Claremore helped ease the pressure of Howe’s outing with a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first and four more in the third to go ahead 5-0.
Howe helped his cause in the first with an RBI-single that scored leadoff-hitter Cole Weiesnbach from second base. Weiesnbach reached base on the walk.
After Howe retired the Hornets’ first five batters on strikeouts, Skaggs got a piece of Howe’s fastball and laced a grounder to shortstop (Cole) Weiesnbach, who fielded the ball and fired to first baseman Jacob Teague.
Skaggs, however, reached base after the throw from Weiesnbach to Teague was high.
Teague made up for the error moments later when he dove to his right and snagged a scorching ground ball off the bat of Bobby Cox for the unassisted putout that capped the top half of the second.
T.J. Wood got Claremore’s second hit of the game — a single between shortstop and third base and then advanced two bases on wild pitches from Skaggs.
Claremore’s inning, however, ended on Weiesnbach’s flyout to deep center field.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the third, the Hornets got their first runner on base when Seamus Ryan-Johnson tagged Howe’s breaking ball for a single to center field.
Claremore’s defense backed up Howe with strong play by third baseman Tyler Cagle to cap the inning.
The Zebras’ dramatic third inning pushed the margin to 5-0, and the Hornets chipped away with one run in the sixth and another run in the seventh.
Howe tossed six strong innings to improve to 3-0 on the season. He finished with 13 strikeouts on four hits with one walk.
“Right now, I believe that our success comes from playing as a team and not playing for ourselves,” Hollihan said. “We just find ways to win.”
The Zebras are 8-0 on the season and 4-0 in Metro Lakes Conference action.
Claremore’s senior right fielder smashes grand slam, 2 homers against BTW
Cardinals fall in 3A semifinals; Lady Cards eliminated in quarters
The Verdigris Cardinals saw their Class 3A State Tournament journey end Friday afternoon in the Final Four.
Oklahoma City Centennial eliminated the No. 4-ranked Cardinals, 62-51 in the semifinals at the Big House in Oklahoma City.
Zebras head to Pensacola for Aggie Classic
While many Claremore High School students will spend Spring Break relaxing at the lake, the Zebras take to the diamond for the prestigious Aggie Classic in Pensacola, Fla.
For the second-straight year, the 2013 Class 5A state runner-up Zebras make the trip to the Florida Panhandle for some of the best baseball in the South.
Whatley powers Zebras past Sapulpa
Claremore senior catcher Matt Whatley powered the Zebras to a 12-6 win over Sapulpa Tuesday evening in non-conference action at American Legion Park.
Whatley, who has already signed with Oral Roberts University, finished 4-for-5 with a triple, double and two singles. He also amassed six RBIs.
AAC MEN'S BB: No. 5 Louisville topples No. 21 UConn
Connecticut was much better one week later - just not good enough to topple Louisville.
The 21st-ranked Huskies never really threatened in the second half of a 71-61 loss to the No. 5 Cardinals on Saturday night in the championship game of the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament.
BIG 12 MEN'S BB: Iowa State claims first title since 2000
Nobody could blame Baylor coach Scott Drew for shaking hands with Iowa State counterpart Fred Hoiberg, turning on his heel and promptly walking up the tunnel of the Sprint Center.
He had already seen a championship celebration from the losing bench. Twice.
After winning three games in three days to reach the Big 12 tournament title game, his No. 7 seed Bears finally ran out of steam. DeAndre Kane scored 17 points, Georges Niang added 13 and the No. 16 Cyclones rallied for a 74-65 victory and their first championship since 2000.
BIG EAST MEN'S BB: McDermott, Creighton fall to Providence in finals
Doug McDermott had just drained consecutive 3-pointers and Creighton was trying to finish off a furious rally in the final minutes of the Big East championship game.
With the Bluejays down four and only 30 seconds remaining, the nation's leading scorer hoisted another one from long range.
Really long range.
Had to be at least 25 feet.
''I thought it was going in,'' Providence coach Ed Cooley said.
But the ball hit the front of the rim and bounced away, ending the best chance left for the 14th-ranked Bluejays.
McDermott knew it, too.
After the Friars grabbed the rebound, he leaned over at the waist and grabbed his shorts, knowing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity had slipped away. Providence closed out a 65-58 victory Saturday night, and Creighton's dreams of winning a conference title in its first Big East season were over.
NBA CAPSULES: Grizzlies hand 76ers' 20th-straight loss
The Philadelphia 76ers had a loss for the record book.
Mike Conley scored 19 points and Zach Randolph had 14 to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 103-77 win Saturday night, sending the 76ers to a franchise-tying 20th straight loss.
MLB: Joe Kelly stars in Cardinals' 6-2 win over Braves
Joe Kelly pitched into the sixth inning and had three hits to help the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Saturday.
MLB: Red Sox minor league catcher Jon Denney arrested
Boston Red Sox minor league catcher Jon Denney was arrested and charged with driving with a suspended license.
MLB: Hall of Famer Schmidt recovering from skin cancer
Mike Schmidt sat down at a picnic table beyond the left-field wall on a sunny morning at Bright House Field, then scooted over to seek the shade of some palm trees and a light tower.
He wasn't taking any chances.
The 64-year-old Hall of Famer is recovering from an advanced form of skin cancer that kept him from being a guest instructor with the Philadelphia Phillies in spring training.
- More Sports Headlines
- Cardinals fall in 3A semifinals; Lady Cards eliminated in quarters