By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
Former Pioneer All-Stater Edward Layton of NOC Tonkawa entered his homecoming at David Allen Memorial Ballpark against archrival NOC Enid with a broken heart.
The Mavericks learned Thursday their appeal for leniency for violating an NJCAA Region II policy regarding the reporting of player statistics was denied.
That puts NOC Tonkawa out of the Region II playoffs, scheduled for May 10-13.
“The news today killed me,’’ Layton said.
Layton, though, directed his anger at the Jets, shutting down NOC Enid, 2-1 to give the Mavericks their first Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference win in 18 tries this season.
“It made me want to win more than I have been,’’ Layton said.
The Jets won the first game 8-3 behind three RBI from Dusty Harper.
Layton scattered seven hits while striking out one and walking three. He was aided by two double plays.
He left the game with one out in the seventh after walking No. 9 hole hitter Logan Glasgow.
Canyon Conley got the dangerous J.R. Head to hit into a force play and struck out Brandon Ruiz on a disputed check swing to set off a Mavericks celebration.
“My arm was feeling like Jell-O,’’ Layton said. “I didn’t know what to do. Canyon came in and pitched great. I couldn’t have done any better.’’
Layton, who had started the season as a backup shortstop, was making only his third start of the season for the Mavericks.
“Oh man, Eddie has been coming on lately,’’ said NOC Tonkawa interim coach Chris Scott. “He’s been doing a good job of commanding all three of his pitches for strikes. Every time he’s gone out, he’s given us a chance to win.’’
Long-time Mavericks coach Terry Ballard has been put on administrative leave. Scott was proud of how his team reacted to the bad news.
“As coaches, we knew we were going to get one of two responses,’’ he said. “We got the response we hoped, and thought we would get from them. This is a tough, gritty group who has had a lot of adversity along the way. They did a great job today.’’
The Mavericks gave Layton all the support he would need in the first inning.
Former Plainsman star Dylan Nave, who was 3-for-7 for the day with two RBI, led off with a single and scored after a sacrifice by Javier Perez and a single by Angel Vidal. Tomas Mark’s two-out double scored Vidal with what proved to be the eventual winning run.
Jets starter Jonathan Johnson settled down after that, shutting the Mavericks out the rest of the way. NOC Tonkawa only had three hits the last six innings and did not get a runner to second.
“It was a well-played game,’’ said NOC Enid coach Raydon Leaton. “It wasn’t like we stunk it up. We had our chances to win. J.J. threw well today and kept us in the game. We didn’t get a hit when we needed it.’’
NOC Enid scored its lone run in the fourth. Logan Bradley singled and scored on a double by Tanner Cruts.
Layton got out of a bases-loaded jam with a double play in the third. With runners on first and third with two out in the sixth, he fanned Tyler Wilkins for his only strikeout.
“My curve was going good,’’ Layton said. “At first, I couldn’t get my fastball over, but I found my groove and just worked at it.’’
The split left NOC Enid at 8-10 in conference and 34-20 overall.
“We just have trouble completing a doubleheader,’’ Leaton said.
NOC ENID 8, NOC TONKAWA 3
Harper swung the big bat with a two-run homer run in the second and a RBI single in the sixth. Bradley was 2-for-4 with two doubles.
Harper’s homer was the big blow in a four-run second which also included a Head RBI single. Another run came off an error. The Jets added three runs in the fourth, thanks to two Mavericks errors.
Ruiz scored twice for the Jets, the last coming in the sixth when he was singled in by Harper.
Winning pitcher Garrett Kelly allowed five hits and one run over five innings. He walked five, hit a batter and struck out two.
Nave was 2-for-4, including RBI singles in the third and sixth.
Ex-Plainsman Miguel Bretado was 1-for-3 with a walk and scored a run in the opener. He was 0-for-3 in the second game, but played well in the field.
Leaton said the Mavericks’ being out of the field will make the regional a five-team affair.
“I feel bad for their program and their kids, but I have a hard enough time worrying about my program.’’