The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

May 1, 2014

Pioneer win from state

WAUKOMIS, Okla. —  Amid an otherwise near-flawless game in Thursday’s Class A Baseball Regional game against Class A No. 5 Pioneer, Drummond’s Garrett Menendez threw three pitches he wished he hadn’t.

They were enough to beat him.

Patrick Williams had a home run and capped a two-out rally in the sixth with an RBI single, enough to top 14th-ranked Drummond as the Bulldogs couldn’t quite take advantage of its best chance in three tries to beat Pioneer in regional play on Thursday. The Mustangs pulled to within a game of a return to the state tournament with a 3-1 win.

Menendez held Pioneer — which had beaten Drummond by a combined score of 25-5 in two previous games in 2014 — hitless through 32⁄3 innings before leaving an off-speed pitch up for Williams as the the senior transfer from Cimarron hit it over the rightfield wall to put Pioneer up 1-0.

Kade Cronkhite walked with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, and a Colby Koontz single got past Dayton Shannon in right field to score Cronkhite and advance Koontz to third. Williams singled in Koontz on Menendez’s next pitch to put Pioneer up 3-1.

“Literally it was three pitches that were the game,” said Menendez, who struck out three and allowed two earned runs on three hits in a complete-game loss.

Pioneer pitcher Skyler Bartel powered his way through early trouble, walking three, hitting a batter and allowing three hits in his first four innings, but keeping Drummond scoreless on nine strikeouts before the fifth. Bartel wriggled out of another jam in the fifth inning, but not before a Parker Jankey single scored Menendez to tie the game at 1-1. Bartel had two walks, three wild pitches and hit a batter in the inning, but struck out Jacob Bunner to end the inning with the bases loaded.

Bartel twisted his left knee in the fifth, but after remaining in the game following a short mound visit by coach David Riesen, said his ensuing struggles weren’t injury-related.

“It was mental,” said Bartel, who finished with 11 strikeouts. “Just too many balls. Got to my head.”

Blake Gabriel (1-0) relieved Bartel with the game tied in the top of the sixth, retiring Drummond in order for the only time on Thursday to set up Pioneer’s game-winning rally in the bottom half. Gabriel, Pioneer’s top starter for last season’s regional tournament, missed most of 2014 with a shoulder injury, pitching just 31⁄3 innings before earning his first decision of the season in Thursday’s win.

“It’s my senior year, I wanted to throw,” said Gabriel, who allowed a walk and a Chris Moreno single to put the tying run on base in the seventh before striking out Dalton Terry to end the game. “I have my best stuff for a short amount of time, and that’s kind of where I want to be.”

Pioneer (35-4), which beat Mooreland 12-2 in six innings to open Thursday’s regional play, can advance to its fourth state tournament in five seasons with a win today against the winner of the 4 p.m. elimination game between Drummond and Mooreland. Drummond (24-12) beat Cashion 3-2 on Thursday, but Menendez said losing a third time to Pioneer despite a near-perfect game would take a quick recovery for another potential matchup today.

“I haven’t beaten Pioneer in my whole high school career in baseball,” Menendez said. “As much as I don’t wanna say it, I just feel like Pioneer’s got that little luck charm (against us).”

Whichever team advances to today’s 6 p.m. potential championship would have to beat Pioneer twice, today at 6 p.m. and again Saturday at 2 p.m.

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