By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The Class A No. 8 Pioneer baseball team continues its trek to what it hopes will be a fourth-straight state tournament appearance Thursday in the the opening day of a four-team regional playoff at Pioneer.
Only one team from the four — Pioneer, No. 11 Cashion, Drummond and Laverne — will gain entry to the Class A State Tournament starting May 2 on Palmer Field at Dolese Park in Oklahoma City.
The Mustangs (24-10) open against unranked Laverne at 1 p.m., after the bracket opener at 11 a.m. between Cashion (19-7) and Drummond (20-13). A win against Laverne would set up a game against the Cashion-Drummond winner at 3 p.m., and the regional champ will be decided no sooner than a 6 p.m. Friday championship game, with a second title tilt following at 1 p.m. Saturday if necessary.
Pioneer is the top seed of the four, but has only one game against the field. The Mustangs beat third-seeded Drummond 13-6 March 18 at Pioneer.
The Mustangs’ next test comes after a minor scare in its last outing.
Pioneer ousted unranked Morrison for a championship in district play, but needed three games to do it. The Wildcats took a one-game lead, beating Pioneer 6-3 in the opener of what was effectively a best-of-three series for the title of the district tilt in Morrison, but Pioneer took the decisive next two, 7-5 and 14-2.
Still, Pioneer coach Dave Riesen wasn’t discouraged by the close call.
“If you survive that and advance, it can only help you,” he said. “It puts you in position to have to deal with stuff, and we did that ... It was more about Morrison and how well they played, not us and how we played.”
On top of Colby Koontz, who has missed most of the season after undergoing Tommy-John surgery, the Mustangs may be without pitcher Collin Mason and outfielder Brandon McNaughton in the regional tournament.
Mason, who is 4-0 on the mound, was cleared by doctors to play after a knee injury, but will be limited if he’s able, Riesen said, and McNaughton was hit by a pitch in the district round, possibly breaking his right hand.
“We’re beat up as little bit, but that’s no excuse,” Riesen said. “Everybody’s a little beat up this time of year.”