Looking to lock up the district title for a fourth time in six years, Pryor asserted its dominance early.
The Tigers hit two doubles and a triple on consecutive at-bats in the first inning, driving in two runs en route to a 5-1 victory over Claremore on Monday evening at American Legion Park. Pryor finished with 11 hits in all, including two more doubles.
However, Zebras coach Jim Sherl said that wasn’t the most disappointing aspect of the loss. Instead, it was the number of stranded runners that was the most disheartening.
Claremore stranded seven runners, four of which were in scoring position.
“We knew coming in that they would hit the ball and score runs,” said Sherl, whose team tallied six hits. “We knew that. I think what was a little more disappointing to me was it seemed like we had chances every inning. We had base runners and base runners and base runners, and we didn’t execute on a couple of bunts. We got a couple of good hits with runners in scoring position that they either made plays on or we hit right at.
“We had good at-bats with nothing to show for it.”
The Zebras answered Pryor’s initial spurt when Noah Smallwood scored on an Ethan Grimett groundout to make it 2-1 in the bottom half, but that was the closest they would get.
Nate Silkey singled in Peyton McClelland in the second, giving the Tigers a two-run lead once again before they added a pair of runs in the third on two errors.
Brooks Miller and Josh Gore drove in the team’s first two runs in the first on a double and a triple, respectively.
Neither team scored in the final four innings, and that was thanks in large part to stellar pitching on both sides.
Dax Sharp earned the win on the mound for Pryor, tossing 11 strikeouts while scattering six hits and no walks on 116 pitches through seven innings.
Grimett dropped to 3-3 in his mound appearances this season after surrendering eight hits, five runs and a walk while striking out three on 78 pitches through four innings, but Cash Flegal limited the damage after that.
In three innings of relief, Flegal notched five strikeouts and allowed three hits on 53 pitches.
Sherl said the junior began the season as a starter and has been slowly working his way back to that role in recent weeks.
“He’s had some really good outings and some really bad outings, and today just happened to be one of those good outings,” Sherl said. “That’s what we’ve talked about with him and what we’re working with, just his consistency. Moving forward, hopefully we can get him back in that starting role, and he can go out there and get us some quality starts. When he’s on, he’s good.
“He gets us groundballs and fly balls, and it’s tough for them to put the barrel on the ball against them.”
Claremore fell to 18-14 overall and 9-4 in District 5A-4 with the loss while Pryor improved to 23-8 and 12-1.
The Zebras likely learned where they will finish in the district standings after Tuesday’s series finale at Pryor.