By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
NOC Enid’s baseball opener had an ominous beginning (two errors), but almost had a Hollywood ending.
Butler County closer Nathan Briar got the Jets’ Blake Callaway to fly out with the tying run on second and the winning run on first to preserve the Grizzlies’ 4-3 win over NOC Enid Thursday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
The Jets, down 4-2, rallied in the ninth, loading the bases after a Ty Walker single and Tanner Cruts and J.R. Head being hit by pitches in between a Logan Glasgow sacrifice.
Brandon Ruiz, who homered in the first, brought in pinch-runner Kyle Callahan with a sacrifice fly, but center fielder Brayon Colley ran down Callaway’s hit to end the game.
“All you ask at the end of the game is to be put in a position to win it, and we were,’’ said NOC Enid coach Raydon Leaton. “Blake is one of our best hitters. We just missed it a bit.’’
NOC Enid couldn’t quite recover from a first inning in which Grizzlies lead-off hitters Colley and Matt Moore reached on errors and scored after a ground out by Russ Cunningham and a sacrifice fly by Tory Bell.
“That got us on our heels a little bit, but we could have easily panicked and got down four or five runs,’’ Leaton said. “We crawled and scratched and hung around. It was a sell-played game by both teams. Both teams did a lot of things right for this early in the season.’’
Grizzlies pitchers Dakota McKaskle, Chase Haynes, Grant Hamilton and Briar combined to give up only four hits, while striking out eight. McKaskle, who pitched the first four innings, allowed only one hit — Ruiz’s solo homer in the first — while striking out five and not walking a batter.
NOC Enid pitchers Justin Sheets, Garrett Kelly, Jonathan Johnson and Zac Postoak allowed only five hits while striking out 11. Kelly struck out four in three hitless innings of relief. Postoak struck out four and allowed one hit in two innings.
“It wasn’t a good day for the hitters with the (wet and 39-degrees) weather,’’ Leaton said. “This early in the season, pitchers should be dominating the hitters and we did that.’’
Colley had an RBI single in the second for the Grizzlies. Butler’s other run came in the sixth when Travis Hendry walked, stole second and third and scored on a single by Mark Hutmacher.
NOC Enid’s other run came in the fifth when David Menger walked, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Head.
“It’s one of those opening day games where you just go back and work on the things we need to work on,’’ Leaton said. “This is just one game out of 56. We played pretty well.’’
Head was on base three times with a single, a walk and being hit by a pitch. Dusty Harper had the Jets’ other hit — a single in the sixth. Hutmacher had two hits for the Grizzlies, 3-2.
NOC Enid will be back in action Tuesday with a doubleheader at Rose State.