The Fort Gibson baseball Tigers dared to invade Tahlequah Tiger territory March 10, only to be run out of town a couple of hours later, dragging a 9-1 loss behind them.

The hometown Tigers came into the game hungry, having lost their first four games of the young season. They were ready to defend their home turf.

Sometimes something seemingly insignificant happens that actually is the start of something big. That seemingly insignificant thing happened to the Tigers in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Brody Younger reached on a dropped third strike. Cutter Girdner drew a walk, then Beckett Robinson doubled into right field, scoring Younger. Girdner scored on a single by Conner Lee, and on an error by the catcher, Robinson scored as well.

Brayden Northington followed with an RBI double, plating Lee for the fourth Tiger run of the inning.

Fort Gibson scored its lone run in the top of the fifth inning, an unearned run due to an error that let the batter reach base.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers reached out and touched their visitors for two more runs. Jack Vance led off with a single, and advanced to second when Robinson walked on four straight pitches. Northington knocked his second RBI double, scoring Vance and advancing Robinson to third. Four pitches later, Robinson scored on a passed ball, giving the Tigers a 6-1 lead.

But they weren’t finished. In the bottom of the sixth, Jacob Morrison reached the hard way, getting hit by a pitch. Levi Kelly walked, and Girdner singled, scoring Morrison from second. Kelly and Girdner advanced to third and second base, respectively, on a wild pitch, then Kelly raced home after tagging up on a sacrifice fly by Vance.

Girdner took third on the same play. Robinson was intentionally walked, and Lee was walked intentionally, juicing the bases. A balk by the Fort Gibson pitcher let Girdner trot home, ending the game in run-rule fashion.

The line for the Tigers was nine runs, on eight hits, and one error. Fort Gibson had one run, unearned, on six hits, and one error.

Northington was given the team Most Valuable Player award for his performance in the game. The junior started the game on the mound, working four and a third innings, giving up one unearned run, five hits, two walks, hitting one batter, and striking out seven. He had a 56 strike count to an 87 pitch count, a 64% efficiency.

But, that was just part of Northington’s heroics. Offensively, he had two RBI doubles, and a single, leading the Tigers in doubles, total bases, and hits, and tied with Lee in RBIs, each with two.

Robinson had one hit, a double, in the game, and Girdner, Vance, Lee, and Morrison all had singles.

Eli Gibson came on in the fifth inning in relief of Northington, and pitched one and two thirds inning. During his stint on the hill, Gibson gave up one hit, and struck out three. He threw 19 pitches, of which 15 were strikes, 79% efficiency.

“He really filled it up,” said Tiger Head Coach Sam Nelson, speaking of the strike zone.

Just a day earlier, the Tigers were on the wrong end of the same score, 9-1, with Broken Arrow owning the nine.

The Tigers grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning when Robinson knocked a one-out double into left field. An out later, with Lee at the plate, Robinson stole third on a 3-0 count, and Lee singled him home, for the Tigers’ only run of the game.

Broken Arrow scored three in the bottom of the third, and never relinquished the lead.

The Tigers had three hits in the game, including the double by Robinson and the single by Lee, and a single by Race Stopp.

Girdner started on the mound for the Tigers, and threw two and two thirds innings, allowing three runs on six hits, two walks, and striking out one. His pitch to strike count was 57 to 34, a 60% efficiency.

“The score doesn’t reflect it, but there were some pretty good things from that game,” said Nelson.

“We started our freshman, and he did a good job,” he said.

Ike Yahola relieved Girdner, but didn’t record an out while allowing one run, one hit, and walking one. Bennett Sams finished the game in a mop-up role, working two innings, allowing five runs, two hits, walking one, and fanning one.

“Broken Arrow is always one of the top teams around,” said Nelson. “It would have been nice to have won that one, but we learned a lot about our kids in that game.

“We are 1-4, but look at our schedule the past few days," said Nelson. "We’ve played some of the toughest teams around right off the bat, in Owasso, Enid twice, and Broken Arrow."

“It was nice to get the win tonight,” he said.

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