ENID, Okla. —
Almost a year ago Thursday, Enid enjoyed a rare high point in a baseball season full of low ones with a seven-run first inning and an opening-round upset of visiting rival Stillwater in the Gladys Winters Tournament at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
If there are baseball gods, they certainly have a sense of humor.
Stillwater started Thursday’s David Allen rematch with an appropriate seven-run first-inning barrage, finished with a symmetrical seven-run seventh and added a steal on three attempts in the final frame for good measure in a 17-3 rout of the Plainsmen, the Pioneers’ ninth straight win and fifth in a row by at least six runs.
“That’s always been a rivalry game for us,” said shortstop Cole Floyd. “It hurts a lot worse to get beat like that.”
“These last couple of games, we’ve just come in and run-ruled people, and that’s kind of how we’ve been playing,” said Will Fowler, who was Stillwater’s pitcher for Enid’s seven-run outburst to start last year’s game and had three RBI and three runs on Thursday. “Not trying to sound cocky or anything, that’s just the attitude in the locker room right now. For me, yeah, I wanted us to run-rule them.”
The Pioneers didn’t, but only because their 14-run lead didn’t come until the top of the seventh, bringing with it some figurative chin music to Stillwater’s longtime rival.
Already up 16-3 in the seventh — and six runs and nine batters into it — catcher Michael Higgins stole third base in front of Enid’s home-side dugout. The steal, coming on the Pioneers’ third attempt of the inning, elicited protests from some Plainsmen coaches and players, and Higgins scored on a Ryan Hoecker single in Stillwater’s next at-bat to reach the final margin. Carson Teel dropped a bunt on the following pitch, but appeared to have done so to give himself up and end the inning.
First-year Stillwater head coach Jimmy Harris said afterward that he had explained the steals to Enid head coach Bill Mayberry, and that they were done to reinforce the Pioneers’ new baserunning system.
“We have a baserunning system, and we’re working on it,” Harris said. “These kids have never done this before, and I told Coach Mayberry that there was no message, there was no intent. We were trying to do what we do. There’s a certain rule we go by, and if we can, we take the bag. They were allowing that to happen, so we were taking the bag. We meant no disrespect by it.”
“I try to not figure why other people are doing things, I try to figure out what we are (doing),” Mayberry said. “Our players, our coaches, thought (Stillwater was trying to send a message), but if you’ve got things to work on, you’ve got to work on them. I’ve been on both ends of that. We don’t run it up like that, but some teams do, but I don’t hold it against them.”
Jon Littell (2-0) earned the win for Stillwater, but worked only an inning to get it as the Pioneers treated Thursday as a chance to give work to a several pitchers. Colton Bunny, Riley Williams, Tyler Burnett, Gunner Black, Teel and Higgins also threw in the game.
Despite the start, Littell was Stillwater’s least effective pitcher, surrendering two runs on two hits, two walks and two strikeouts in his lone frame. The Oklahoma State commit didn’t need to be perfect though, starting his day with a seven-run buffer after an error-filled top of the first.
Teel singled on a hard-hit liner to right to open the game, followed by a T.J. Black walk. Littell flied out to right, then the mistakes started. Brooks Zimmerman reached on an error by Enid third baseman Hunter Childs, Fowler reached on another error — a bobble by first baseman Braden Rogers that also scored Teel for the game’s first run — and Harrison Cornforth reached on a Childs throwing error, Enid’s third straight that scored Black in the process.
Enid starter Bates Enmeier (2-1) struck out Burnett on a curveball and seemed poised to escape the error-aided rally down only two, but Higgins followed with a two-out, bases-clearing triple to deep center and Hoecker and Teel added RBI doubles to bump the lead to 7-0 and put Enid all but out of reach by the bottom of the first.
“We’ve turned 12 double plays in 11 games, and we get those (ground) balls and we can’t turn them,” Mayberry said. “It was unfortunate for Bates, because they didn’t have an earned run (against him).”
Enid pulled back to within 7-2 on RBI doubles by Enmeier and sophomore Bobby Russell in the bottom of the first, and as close as 7-3 on a Childs RBI in the fourth, but Stillwater responded with 10 unanswered including its seven-run knockout blow in the seventh, improving to 10-1 overall and already 2-0 in 6A-4 play.
The Plainsmen, who finished with three hits and a season-high seven errors, have the weekend off to recover from Thursday’s loss before entering what will be the team’s most important stretch of the schedule so far.
Enid opens a set of six consecutive games against district 6A-3 competition with a home-and-home against Bixby starting at 5 p.m. Monday at David Allen. The Plainsmen follow with another home-and-home against Booker T. Washington April 4 and 5, and a third against Broken Arrow April 7 and 8, giving the Plainsmen a shot to square its 1-3 district record after some early struggles.
“Gotta come out here, take a lot of ground balls, get in the (batting) cage and just try to forget about (the loss),” Floyd said. “District games are district games. You’ve got to let this one go.”
STILLWATER 17, ENID 3
STILLWATER 700 012 7 - 17 15 1
ENID 200 100 0 - 3 3 7
WP: Littell (2-0), LP: Enmeier (2-1)
Stillwater (10-1): Higgins 3-5, 3B, 5 RBI, 2 R; Hoeker 4-4, 2 2B; 3 RBI, 2R; Littell 2-5, 3B, RBI, R; Teel 2-6, 2B, RBI, R
Enid (5-7): Enmeier 1-2, 2B, RBI, R; Russell 1-3, 2B, RBI