By BEN JOHNSON
Colby Brittain has come to a crosswords twice he’s toed the rubber at Tiger Field.
The first time resulted in an abbreviated outing in a loss to Memorial. On Monday, Brittain avoided early trouble and pitched a complete-game three-hitter while leading Tahlequah to a 2-1 triumph in District 5A-3 action.
“Second inning, I wasn’t in the zone very much, but then I found my groove,” said Brittain, who lasted only 3 2/3 innings while giving up four runs in a 13-8 loss to Memorial on March 11. “I was able to pound the strike zone and it worked out for me.”
It sure did.
Brittain allowed a lone run in the second inning, and he worked around four walks during his outing. He also logged five strikeouts.
“He threw a great game,” Tahlequah coach Nick Zodrow said. “He threw a complete game on 94 pitches, and he competed. It’s a big win in a district game.”
Despite the Tigers’ 4-6 mark overall, they have now won three consecutive games and now stand at 2-1 in 5A-3. Tahlequah will be at Skiatook today to close out the two-game set.
To add to its current winning streak, Brittain avoided a giant pitfall in the second inning against Skiatook. The Bulldogs (3-7, 1-2) loaded the bases with one out, but Brittain got Brendan Babb to ground out and Tanner Brown to strike out to end the threat.
Skiatook’s lone run was scored by Bryson Sill, who scored on Babb’s ground out to short.
Tahlequah, after stranding runners on base in the first three innings, broke through in the fourth frame to tie the game before taking the lead. Dustin Hicks, Ben Stacey, Colton Mashburn and Ryan Sanders all had singles, and Hicks and Stacey eventually scored. Hicks scored on a wild pitch on the first pitch of Sanders’ at-bat, and Sanders followed by lacing a line drive that was dropped by Babb at third base, allowing Stacey to score.
That’s all Tahlequah would need the rest of the way.
“(The offense) came from the bottom half of our lineup,” Zodrow said. “The bottom half of our order had struggled, and today for them to be able to come up and move guys over and get some things done, that was big for us.”
Caleb Sparks took the loss for Skiatook, giving up two runs on six hits in six innings of work. He struck out six and walked one.
In an attempt to tie the game up late, Skiatook’s Stephen Upton singled to start off the seventh inning, but Brittain retired the Bulldogs’ next three hitters to end the contest.
“I was just trying pound (the strike zone),” Brittain said. “I knew if I gave up one hit, it’d have to get back up there and pound it, because their bats weren’t working too good.”
After his club lost six of its first seven times out this season, Zodrow said his club is improving with each passing game.
“One thing I can say is we’re getting better every time we go out,” he said. “That’s all you can ask for.”
Tahlequah 2, Skiatook 1
Skiatook 010 000 0 - 1 3 2
Tahlequah 000 200 x - 2 6 1
Skiatook: Caleb Sparks and Korey Wilson. Tahlequah: Colby Brittain and Austin Riley. WP: Brittain. LP: Sparks.