Tahlequah Daily Press


May 5, 2012

Caney Valley ends Indians’ playoff run

SALINA — Sequoyah’s season may have to a close on Friday, but the Indians certainly went down swinging.

The Indians fought back from an early five-run deficit to eventually lead by two with only half an inning left at Salina’s Wildcat Park.

Caney Valley, though, had the last laugh, scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 14-13 walk-off winner in a Class 3A regional elimination game that featured just about everything.

The marathon contest featured six lead changes, four home runs, a 36-minute lightning delay and a sacrifice fly by Caney Valley’s Kyle Knight that scored Nathan Berwaldt (running for Tristen Gagan) that capped the Trojan victory and prolonged Caney Valley’s season.

The two teams combined for 23 hits — eight for extra bases — in 82 plate appearances.

“It was just a slug-fest,” Sequoyah coach Jeff Turtle said. “Nobody could really keep anybody down, and they had the last at-bat.”

The Indians carried a 13-11 advantage into the last half of the seventh thanks to some late-inning heroics by catcher Eric Kirkpatrick. After Billy Sunday scored on Kyle Helsley’s ground out, Kirkpatrick, a senior signee with Connors State, blasted a towering home run to left-center field off Caney Valley’s John David Martin, the Trojans’ fourth pitcher of the contest.

Martin, however, would get the win on the mound, thanks to the Trojans’ final rally.

In the bottom of the seventh, Caney Valley got two runs on Gagan’s RBI double. The Indians would then intentionally walk Jarrod Allen and Martin to load the bases with one out.

That’s when Knight closed out Sequoyah’s season.

The Indians’ first comeback came in the sixth when they turned an 8-3 deficit into a 9-8 lead. Sequoyah capitalized on three walks and a hit-by-pitch from Caney Valley pitcher, Allen, with RBI singles by Karter Woodruff, Helsley and Kirkpatrick. The Indians’ first run of the frame came when Quinn Johnston drew a bases-loaded walk with no outs.

“They did a good job down at the bottom of the order,” Turtle said. “Two times they did that. We got people on and we scored.”

But as was the case all game long, Caney Valley answered with three runs in its half of the sixth to claim an 11-9 advantage.

After Sequoyah stormed to an early 3-0 lead in the first, the Trojans went on a scoring binge in the second, third and fourth frames. Leading the offensive charge for Caney Valley was Caleb Kohlmeyer, who blasted a solo home run in the third inning before depositing a two-run home run to right-center field in the fourth.

Kohlmeyer finished the day 3 for 4 with four runs scored and three runs batted in. Combined, Kohlmeyer, Gagan and Allen posted 10 of Caney Valley’s hits.

But that was nothing compared to Kirkpatrick’s final stat line: three hits in four at-bats, a run scored and six RBIs.

“He’s been here for four years, and he’s gotten better and better,” Turtle said of Kirkpatrick, who missed hitting a home run by inches in the third inning when his hit to left-center field glance off the top of the fence, resulting in a double.

“We’re really going to miss him because he’s a leader and does things the way you’re supposed to do it. He’s here all the time, and he can swing and throw it. He can do everything.”

Taking the loss for Sequoyah was Ryan Helsley, who pitched a complete game, despite giving up 14 runs (12 earned) on 14 hits. He also gave up seven walks to go along with seven strikeouts.

Turtle said there was never a thought to bring in a reliever for Helsley.

“We had to go with who we had out there,” Turtle said of Helsley, who threw 146 pitches, 81 for strikes.

“They threw four or five to start saving some people [for a potential second game]. I didn’t think it was going to, but it worked out for them.”

Hampering Sequoyah’s efforts was the absence of infielder/outfielder/pitcher Sonny O’Field and left fielder Caisen Green. Both were competing with the Sequoyah track team in Ardmore.

“We don’t even worry about them,” Turtle said. “They’re doing something else, so we just have to play who we have. Things just didn’t work out.”

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