By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Matt Martin drove in the game’s only run in the bottom of the seventh inning, scoring pinch runner Thomas Sander and pushing the defending champion Woodward Majors past the Enid Minors with a 1-0 walk-off win Thursday in the opening round of the Connie Mack State Tournament at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
Woodward’s Dalton Shalberg outdueled Enid Minors starter Matt Mills, striking out nine, scattering three Minors hits and stranding all six baserunners he allowed in pitching a complete-game shutout.
“That’s the best arm we’ve seen all summer,” said Minors coach Seth Sturgeon.
“He was hitting 85-87 (mph) most of the afternoon, and we haven’t seen velocity like that.”
For Enid, Mills (6-5) was nearly as effective, throwing six scoreless innings before allowing a lone, unearned run.
Woodward first baseman Dalton Reed hit a fly ball to left — one of the few balls to reach the far outfield grass off the tournament’s required wood bats — and fell just to the side of Minor left fielder Gavin Chambers, who entered the game as a pinch hitter for starter Browning Nicolet the previous inning.
“It puts a lot of pressure on you when the game’s on the line,” said Mills, who will be a senior this upcoming year at Hennessey. “You’ve got to trust yourself and catch that fly ball.”
A sacrifice bunt advanced Reed to third, and Martin singled past the mound to score Reed, who slid to tally the winning run as Minors catcher Kros Bay couldn’t handle a low relay throw from Bates Enmeier.
“We did all we could,” Mills said. “They just got good hits there at the end, and they won.”
The loss spoiled one of the best games the Enid Minors have put together all this season, Sturgeon said.
The Minors’ first two errors came on a single play with two outs in the bottom of the second, and Martin was caught in a rundown on a botched double steal to end the inning during the next at-bat.
Otherwise, the first six innings were clean defensively, helped along by Mills, who struck out two, walked one and allowed six hits.
“You couldn’t ask for more than that,” Sturgeon said. “One unearned run, are you kidding me? Against kids that are gonna go play college ball next year? Matt Mills has a future ahead of him.
“(The Minors) played their butts off,” Sturgeon said. “Defensively, and pitching, that’s the best game we’ve played all year. Against that good of a team, against that good of a pitcher, to only lose 1-0, I couldn’t be prouder.”
The Minors (20-29) play provisional entry Southmoore SaberCats (24-7) at noon today at David Allen Memorial Ballpark in an elimination game. Southmoore lost 3-1 to the Woodward Minors in the tournament’s first game Thursday.
The Woodward Majors (31-22) play SW Shockers (31-20), which defeated OKC Drillers 8-0 in a six-inning run-rule, at 5 p.m. today.
WOODWARD MAJORS 1,
ENID MINORS 0
MINORS 000 000 0 - 0 3 3
WOODWARD 000 000 1 - 1 6 0
WP: Shalberg, LP: Mills (6-5)
Enid: Lingenfelter, Rogers, Childs: 1B
Woodward: Martin 1-3, RBI; Nichols: 1-3, 2B