By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
NOC Enid felt both the thrill and humility of baseball in splitting a doubleheader with Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference rival Carl Albert Monday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
Shawn Hunter threw a four-hitter and struck out six in a 3-1 Jets win in the opener. Hunter lost his shutout with two out in the sixth.
In the nightcap, the Jets left nine runners on base, walked eight, threw two wild pitches and had a balk in a 6-4 loss to the Vikings.
“That’s baseball,” said NOC Enid coach Raydon Leaton after seeing his team fall to 7-9 in conference and 33-19 overall.
Carl Albert remained a game ahead of the Jets in the OCAC at 8-8.
“We still have a chance to move up in the standings,’’ said Leaton, whose team closes out the conference season with a four-game series with cellar-dwelling NOC Tonkawa Thursday and Saturday. “It’s anybody’s race from second to fifth.’’
He was disappointed with NOC Enid’s second straight split of a conference series.
“If you split in the conference tournament, you’re not going to be there very long,’’ Leaton said. “We have to figure out how not to split.’’
Hunter had a two-hit shutout going into the seventh in the first game. Dexter Morgan, with one out, singled and scored after a ground out and a two-out single by Brandon Kirkland.
“I’ve been trying to get one (shutout) all year,’’ Hunter said. “I came pretty close, but it’s all right as long as the team gets the win.’’
Only one Vikings runner reached third for the first six innings. Carl Albert had the bases loaded in the third, but Hunter struck out Jacob Carter to end the threat.
“I had all three of my pitches working today,’’ Hunter said. “I was able to keep it in the zone. Normally, if you keep it in the strike zone you will have days like this, and that’s what happened today. The guys made some great plays in the field for me.’’
Logan Bradley was the hitting star with a solo homer in the second. He scored an insurance run in the fourth when he walked, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Chase Knott.
J.R. Head’s aggressiveness put NOC Enid up 2-0 in the third. He doubled and scored from second when shortstop Matthew Turner overthrew first on an infield single by Christian Faulkner.
“You can always count on J.R. to make excellent plays,’’ Hunter said, “especially those you don’t think are going to be made.’’
In the second game, NOC Enid scored four runs in the fourth to go up 4-2. Blake Callaway had an RBI double and Knott and David Menger had back-to-back sacrifice bunts for RBI. Brandon Ruiz, who went three-for-four, singled in the other run.
Cummings, though, burst the bubble with a two-out three-run homer over the left field fence in the fifth to make it, 5-4. The Jets, who had eight hits the first four innings, were hitless the last three.
“We needed a shut-down inning in the fifth and we didn’t get it,’’ Layton said. “You have to give credit to them for that. We hung a curveball over the middle of the plate and their guy ran into it. That’s baseball for you.’’
NOC Enid left two runners in the fifth and sixth. Pinch-hitter Tyler Walker struck out with runners on first and second to end the sixth. Dusty Harper had a ground out on an excuse-me swing with runners on first and third in the sixth.
“We had our chances to get guys in and we didn’t do it,’’ Leaton said. “You have to give credit to them.’’
Carl Albert added an insurance run in the seventh. The Vikings took advantage of wild pitches by starter Zac Postoak to score runs in the first and second. Postoak balked the second run in.
“We shot ourselves in the foot at times,’’ Leaton said. “You have to credit them credit for finding ways to win.’’