By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Class 5A No. 4 Deer Creek Edmond gave every opportunity to homestanding Enid, but the Plainsmen couldn’t capitalize, leaving eight on base in losing their third straight, 9-6.
Deer Creek committed four errors and typically accurate starter Joe Peregrin walked six batters before being pulled after 31⁄3 innings. Reliever Ben Heigle recorded just five outs, but was awarded the win, improving to 6-1 after striking out two and walking one.
Christian Voitik (1-2) took the loss, toeing the mound while trying to kick off rust in his first pitching start in close to a month. The Enid junior lasted four innings, surrendering seven runs, five of them earned. The last time he pitched, he no-hit U.S. Grant in a 12-0 win on March 26.
“It took a little while to get my arm warmed up,” said Voitik, who struck out five and walked six. “After the third and fourth inning, my arm felt pretty good. It was loose after that.”
After a diving catch deep in the left-center alley by Shaun Spring kept Deer Creek scoreless in the first, the Antlers broke through in the second with the game’s first run, a Chad Dunlap sacrifice fly that scored Tucker Fox. Fox added to his team’s total with an RBI double in the third for a 3-0 lead.
Enid had runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings, loading the bases in both the first and third, but couldn’t sustain a rally.
“We can’t do that,” said Voitik, who went 1-for-4 with a run scored. “Tonight, we didn’t take advantage of those opportunities, and that’s obviously an area that we’ve got to get better at.”
“That’s a really good ballclub, and they took advantage, putting the ball into play,” said Enid coach Bill Mayberry. “Throwing that ball around with that wet grass was like trying to squeeze a watermelon seed ... On a night like this, you’re going to have throwing errors, and when you get offensive opportunities, you have to take advantage of those. Put the ball in play.”
Braden Rogers plated Voitik for the Plainsmen’s first run in the bottom of the third with a double. Zayne Herbel struck out with runners on second and third, after doing the same with the bases loaded in the first. Zeke Sarver followed with a routine grounder that went through the legs of Deer Creek first baseman and Oklahoma State commit Caleb Eldridge, plating Cole Floyd and Rogers to pull Enid even at three runs apiece.
Dylan Rycroft answered with a two-run triple off the centerfield wall in the fourth to put Deer Creek up 6-3 after a Voitik throwing error gave the Antlers a 4-3 lead. Aiden Doherty plated what eventually was the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and Rycroft added two more on a two-run single in the sixth.
Herbel and Sarver narrowed the gap with back-to-back groundout RBI in the final half-inning, but Raycroft snagged Austin Minter’s line drive at shortstop to end the game on the next at bat.
The loss dropped Enid to 9-16, but the game effectively was filler for the Plainsmen, who play a much more crucial road doubleheader against 6A-4 foe Sapulpa on Friday. Enid sits at seventh with a 3-7 mark in district play, but could leapfrog sixth-place Sapulpa (12-9, 3-6 6A-4) with a sweep.
“We’re starting to feel comfortable in our own skin,” Mayberry said. “We know what we are. We’re going to have to upset somebody in the playoffs to get a chance to play that game and go to the state tournament, and when we do that, I’d want to play anybody but us.”
Deer Creek continued its torrid pace, improving to 19-4, with two of its losses coming to 6A’s Stillwater and Broken Arrow.