Even with the rest of the sports world in utter chaos because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), some Rogers County baseball teams chose the “show must go on” mentality.
Verdigris, Inola and Catoosa all remained in action on Thursday and Friday despite the OSSAA postponing all sanctioned events. The governing body of prep sports in Oklahoma allowed school districts to decide the fate of regular-season games, and those schools took full advantage of that.
The Cardinals routed Salina for the third time in a week, downing the Wildcats 8-0 on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Longhorns were busy beating Hilldale 5-1.
Inola then traveled to Catoosa on Friday for a matchup between Rogers County foes, which the Indians won 6-5.
Verdigris was set to play Union at 5 p.m. Friday, but that game was canceled. The Longhorns’ contest at 12 p.m. Saturday against Wagoner met a similar fate.
Verdigris 8, Salina 0: The Cardinals led only 1-0 after two innings, but Sloan Roller gave them some much needed security in the third.
After a trio of walks loaded the bases, Roller smacked a 2-RBI double to right field, scoring Toby Willis and Austin Neal.
Jax Ryan was hit by a pitch on the ensuing at-bat to reload the bases, and that pattern continued when Ty Moore scored on a bases-loaded walk eight pitches later.
Tyler Haddock, who singled in Roller with a bunt in the first inning for the game’s first run, then grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Roller once more, and Ryan added to the advantage shortly after thanks to a wild pitch.
Haddock pushed the lead to 7-0, capping the six-run inning with a run on a passed ball.
The game was called in the bottom of the fifth after Willis tallied a groundball single to left field, scoring Haddock.
Jackson Thies took the win on the mound for Verdigris, which improved to 7-0 with the win. He struck out six while allowing two hits and a walk on 66 pitches through five innings.
Inola 5, Hilldale 1: The Longhorns took a slow and steady approach to Thursday’s game, with all five of their runs coming in the fourth and fifth innings.
Nathan Butler drove in the first run with a single to center field, scoring Cameron Morgan. Jayden Morgan reaped a similar benefit on the next at-bat, scoring as a result of a Stephen Johnson single to left field.
Hilldale finally retired the side on a Cason Thomas fly out, but not before Devin Wiley tacked on another run to give Inola a 3-0 lead.
A pair of doubles from Dylan Walker and Caynen David put the Hornets in scoring position in the fourth, but only the latter put them on the board as Colby Thompson found his way home.
However, Colton Stringfellow, who earned the win on the mound for the Longhorns, ensured the Hornets would get no closer than the 3-1 spread, tallying two of his five strikeouts to end the inning.
In addition to the handful of strikeouts, Stringfellow allowed five hits and a walk on 92 pitches through 5.1 innings. Brandon Ross pitched 1.2 innings of relief, allowing one hit with no strikeouts.
Jayden Morgan got things going once more for Inola in the fifth, doubling in his brother Cameron with a line-drive shot to left field. He was then drove in by a Josh Vick single to cap the game’s scoring.
The Longhorns managed five hits off Hilldale pitcher Kielton Siedlik, but Siedlik racked up 10 strikeouts through six innings on the mound while throwing only 89 pitches.
TJ Maxwell led the Hornets at the plate with two of their six hits.
Catoosa 6, Inola 5: The Longhorns weren’t as fortunate on Friday, though.
Facing a 1-2 count with bases loaded and the game tied at 5 in the bottom of the seventh, Colyn Treat treated Catoosa to a walk-off victory with a fly ball to center field, scoring Dillion Springer for the game-winning run.
It was a heartbreaking ending to a nightmarish bottom half for Inola, which led 5-3 entering the frame.
Three-straight errors from Wiley, Johnson and Vick allowed the Indians to trim their deficit to one, and Gavin Barclay executed a sacrifice bunt on the following at-bat to score Cody Busch and tie the game.
The Longhorns (4-4) then intentionally walked Brock Gray and Gavin Ragsdale, setting up Treat’s walk-off finale.
However, the top of the seventh was a different story for Inola.
Trailing 3-1, the Longhorns benefited from a walk and a Johnson single to get within striking distance, and balk from Catoosa pitcher Gray allowed Walt Spurlock to score.
A walk on the next at-bat loaded the bases, leading to a bases-loaded walk shortly after that evened things at 3.
Wiley closed the four-run spurt with a 2-RBI single to right field, scoring Isaiah Schwing and Brandon Ross to give Inola a 5-3 advantage.
All other scoring action came in the fourth, for both teams went scoreless through the first three innings.
A sacrifice bunt from Vick scored Wiley to end the deadlock, but the Indians didn’t trail for long.
Despite suffering a leadoff strikeout, Catoosa (4-4) answered with a Lane Carnley RBI single to right field after three-straight walks loaded the bases.
Ragsdale’s score tied the game at 1, and an error by Inola shortstop Vick only two pitches later allowed Treat and Hayden Keeter to score and give the Indians their first lead.
Both clubs tallied four hits, with Inola’s Wiley and Catoosa’s Carnley each claiming two hits.
Barclay took the win on the hill for Catoosa, allowing only two hits and one run while striking out five through 5.1 innings.
Ross was on the mound for the Longhorns, lasting 3.1 innings and allowing two hits and three runs while striking out three.
Thomas and Johnson entered the game from the bullpen, throwing 2.1 innings and one-third of an inning, respectively.