Claremore re baseball had a rough go of things at the McAlester Shootout.
The Zebras battled some tough Class 5A competition but came up short, falling to Shawnee 8-5 before dropping a 10-2 decision against host McAlester. Claremore, which lost three of its four games this week, now sports an 18-13 record.
With District 5A-4 leader and defending state champion Pryor on deck next week for the final district series of the season, the Zebras are hoping to avoid a four-game losing streak heading into the postseason.
“Honestly, we’ve been playing really good defense,” Claremore coach Jim Sherl said. “We’ve been swinging the bats really well, and we’ve been scoring runs but we’re just not pitching very well.”
Here is recap of Claremore's games at the McAlester Shootout:
Shawnee 8, Claremore 5: Shawnee's offense barely had a pulse through the first three innings, but that changed in the fourth.
The Wolves earned six walks during that frame, resulting in two runs with a 2-RBI single from Creed Muirhead sprinkled in to give them a 4-2 lead.
An error in the fifth made it a three-run spread before Shawnee capped its scoring spree with a bases-loaded walk and a Boston Tully 2-RBI double in the sixth.
“Noah Smallwood started the game, and he’s had a couple of relief appearances just trying to work his way back onto the mound,” Sherl said. “We would probably consider him to be one of our best pitchers, but we’ve played this season without him pitching. His arm has been feeling good, and he’s got some bullpen work in, so we felt like it was a good time for him to start. He pitched extremely well and held them at bay, but we got to the fourth inning, and he kind of hit his pitching limit. We actually went above what we wanted to throw him, and he got a little bit tired. It just affected his control a little bit, and he walked a guy or two.
“We brought him out and brought some relief guys in, and we just had a lot of walks there.”
Smallwood took the loss for the Zebras despite tossing six strikeouts through 3.2 innings, allowing three hits, four runs and four walks on 72 pitches. Grant Evans and Cash Flegal also saw time on the mound.
Claremore rallied in the seventh, scoring runs on a Brooks Sherl single, a groundout from Ethan Grimett and a Cameron Palmer sacrifice fly, but the comeback effort ended there.
Brooks Sherl and Kaden Renfroe both went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead the Zebras in hits. Claremore outhit the Wolves 6-5.
Daniel Campbell earned the win with seven strikeouts on 107 pitches through six innings, surrendering four runs on five hits and three walks.
Claremore gained a 2-0 lead in the first when Palmer notched a 2-RBI single to left field, scoring Brooks Sherl and Smallwood.
This game was a rematch from the Bill Tipton Classic on Saturday, April 10 in Shawnee, which the Zebras won 11-8.
McAlester 10, Claremore 2: Claremore again saw an early lead slip away thanks to a hot start from the Buffaloes.
Brooks Sherl scored on a sac fly from his younger brother Gannon to give the Zebras a one-run advantage in the first, but a pair of singles from Bryson Martin and Caden Lesnau in the bottom half gave McAlester a permanent lead at 3-1.
“It’s disappointing, but I wasn’t upset with our kids,” Jim Sherl said of losing two early leads. “I felt like they competed hard, they never gave up, they never quit and like I said, our defense played extremely well. And our offense. We played McAlester’s No. 1 pitcher and Shawnee’s No. 3 pitcher, and we hit the ball hard, we got runners on base, we got runners in scoring position and we got some big hits with guys in scoring position, but we just hit right at them. Our No. 1 rule in Claremore baseball is hit it where they ain’t, and (Thursday) we seemed to hit a lot of balls right at them.
“I thought our team played overall really well against two really good teams, but I was just disappointed in our pitching and not being able to throw the ball in the zone and letting our defense play.”
That was only the beginning for the Buffaloes, though, for a fielder's choice — followed by a bases-loaded walk and a Lesnau RBI double — added three runs to McAlester's tally in the second.
Brooks Sherl scored in the third when Walters grounded into a fielder's choice, but the Zebras didn't get further than second base the remainder of the game thanks to Blake Martin, who finished the five innings with three strikeouts while allowing four hits and four walks on 84 pitches.
Ethan Gillespie extended the Buffalo lead to 8-2 with a 2-RBI single in the fourth, and Gage Mullins drove in the final two runs on the double the next inning.
McAlester finished with 10 hits in all, led by Lleyton Bass, Gage Dollins and Lesnau with two apiece.
Scout Cutsinger registered the loss on the mound, surrendering six runs on three hits and three walks while striking out one on 52 pitches through one inning. Maddux Renfroe and Walker Brown threw some pitches as well.