Tahlequah Daily Press

High School Sports

May 9, 2014

Claremore ends Tahlequah’s season

CLAREMORE — For the first four innings Thursday night, it looked like the Tahlequah Tigers might survive to play another day at Legion Field.

And then the wheels fell off in the fifth inning.

District 5A-4 rival Claremore scored all five of its runs in the fifth before Tahlequah could record an out, giving the Zebras their fifth regional title in six years and the Tigers their second straight regional runner-up finish.

The Zebras’ offensive explosion started with its lead-off batter, Jeff Oxford knocking a single to third, then being awarded an extra base due to interference by first baseman Dustin Hicks. That was followed in order by a double, two walks and a base-clearing double to the center field warning track before the Tiger defense could get the first out of the inning.            

Tahlequah had its chances to eke out the win. After hitting a lead-off triple to deep center field in the fourth, starting pitcher Colby Brittain scored Tahlequah’s lone run off of a Ben Stacey single. Even after falling behind 5-1, the Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning with only one out, but failed to capitalize.

“At the end of the day, we just did not hit the ball,” Coach Nick Zodrow said. “We played defense and we pitched really well, but we just didn’t hit the ball well enough to win tonight.”

In the loss, Brittain lasted four-plus innings, striking out six and giving up six hits. Austin Riley threw the remaining three-plus innings in relief.

Tahlequah advanced to the regional championship by knocking off Coweta 4-1 in an elimination game Thursday afternoon.

Despite leaving nine runners on base through the course of the game and having three more thrown out at third, Tahlequah never trailed in the early session. Braden Underwood, Coweta’s short stop and eventual relief pitcher, booted a Brittain single in the second inning, allowing Ryan Sanders to scamper home with two outs. Tahlequah never looked back after that, putting up three more runs in the third inning to seal the victory.

Senior Houston Glad threw a complete game against Coweta for the win, striking out nine.

Tahlequah ends its season with a 16-18 record, with 11 of those losses coming over the team’s last 15 games. With only 14 players on the roster this year, the Tigers’ bench is about to get shorter and younger.

“These younger guys are going to have to put in the time to get better,” Zodrow said. “Tahlequah baseball loses four seniors that were all big-time contributors. They aren’t guys who are easy to replace.”

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