Drummond's Wyatt Gray was happy to have Oklahoma Drillers teammates Seth Gray (his twin brother) and Coby Grimsley as future teammates at Eastern Oklahoma College before the AABC South Plains Regional at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
He was even happier about it after Grimsley and Seth Gray were heroes in the Drillers run to the Bracket A finals Saturday morning at David Allen Memorial Ballpark. Grimsley and Connor Hunt combined for a three-hit shutout of Connie Mack state champion MVP Seng, 2-0.
Seth Gray drove in Drummond teammate Brandon Coontz for the winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the Drillers eliminated OKC Sandlot Ballard, 4-3, in the evening.
The Drillers will play the Frozen Ropes, who beat the Sandlot 8-1 earlier Saturday, at 9 a.m. in the bracket finals. The winner plays the B bracket winner (Southwest Shockers Red, D-Bat or DFW Twins) for the championship at 2 p.m. The Shockers will play the Twins-D-Bat winner from late Saturday night for the Bracket B title at 11:30 a.m.
The champion will advance to the Connie Mack World Series next month in Farmington, N.M.
Coontz opened the night with a single and went to second on a sacrifice by Ty Humphers. Gaitlin Goodson walked and Seth Gray followed with a single to left to end the game.
"That's what everyone wanted — free baseball,'' Seth Gray said. "This is the road to Farmington, that's all there is. We're having to grind. It's all about our heart now. That's how badly we wanted it.''
Grimsley also starred at the plate with a solo homer that tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth. He tripled in the second and scored on a Bryce Crawford single. Coontz singled in Crawford for the Drillers' other run.
The Sandlot scored all three of their runs in the second with a two-RBI triple by Colby Entwigtle being the big blow.
Connor Hunt, who came in with two out in the seventh, pitched two and one-third innings of scoreless relief to get the win. He struck out four, including Wyatt Gardner in the eighth and Conner Scott in the ninth with the potential winning run on second.
Drillers starter Nolan Feazle allowed seven hits over six and one-third innings. He struck out five and walked two. Sandlot starter Payne Maga allowed eight hits over seven and one-third innings. He walked only one.
DRILLERS 2, SENG MVP 0
Grimsley struck out six and walked one in becoming the first pitcher to shut out MVP Seng this season. He doubled home Gray in the sixth with an insurance run. He gave way to Hunt after striking out Jett Lodes to open the seventh.
"Coby was a stud today,'' Gray said. "He was nails. He was not the reason I'm going to Eastern (along with twin brother Seth), but I'm extremely happy that we're going together. It's going to be a lot of fun.''
Grimsley was excited when Drillers coach Bryce Scalf told him he would be pitching against MVP Seng, who had beaten the Drillers, 5-2 on Thursday. MVP Seng's first five hitters have committed to D-1 schools — Cam Uselton (Wichita State), Cade Horton (Oklahoma), Dax Fulton (Vanderbilt), John Bay (Oklahoma State) and Cooper Harris (Wichita State). Trevor Martin, Grimsely's mound foe, has committed to OSU as well.
"When he told me I was throwing, I told him 'let's get it on,''' Grimsley said. "The better the team, the better it makes you feel. I wanted to come out and show that I'm just as good as he (Martin) is.''
Martin was pretty good himself, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. The Drillers broke a scoreless tie in the fifth when Bryce Crawford singled, went to second on a wild pitch, to third on a stolen base and scored on a second wild pitch.
Grimsley was putting up the zeroes alongisde Martin, gaining confidence as the game went on.
"As the game went on, I was feeling it more,'' Grimsley said. "I was correcting what I was doing wrong. My confidence went up a lot. My fastball was moving more than it has been and my changeup went well. My slider went well.''
Grimsley gave himself an insurance run in the top of the sixth when he doubled off the left field wall to score Gray, who had a two-out bloop single.
"That was a tough pitch,'' Grimsley said. "I wasn't suppose to be swing at a curve ball, but it was a curve over the middle of the plate. I couldn't help myself. Coach couldn't get mad about that.''
"It was a bloop and a blast,'' Gray said. "I got a little dinker just out of the infield, but it obviously worked out. He drove me in.''
Harris had all of his team's three hits, including a two-out single in the sixth. Trace Evans reached on an error and David Herring drew a walk to load the bases. Grimsley struck out pinch-hitter Kaleb Gafford to end the threat.
"I don't know about the sixth,'' he said. "I lost it for awhile. I had to find it. I got back into it.''
"He was nails in the sixth,'' Gray said of his battery mate.
Grimsley's lone disappointment was being taken out in the seventh after he had exceeded his pitch limit. But that didn't take away from beating a team, which was projected to be a strong candidate to beat the first-ever Oklahoma team to qualify for the Connie Mack World Series.
"This means everything to me,'' he said.
Grimsley, an Atoka High graduate, was discovered by Scalf at a sprng break tournament at Ripley.
Grimsley and Gray said the Drillers aren't the sterotype traveling team. They have had 14 practices at Scalf's home in Stillwater.
"I basically live with him,'' Grimsley said. "I play in the field, too, so I was at every game. If I didn't go to all the games, I wouldn't be as close to these guys as i am.''
The Drillers were at the railing of their dugout throughout the game. Gray felt chemistry was a big difference in the game.
"The big thing was that everybody was in the game,'' Gray said. "I don't think all of their guys were. We have a lot of good team chemistry. Everybody is on the same page and everybody is for everybody else. I don't think there's another team here that practices as often as we do. After we lost to them once, we knew we had to come back here and battle them. It was a good feeling to beat them.''
Grimsley didn't get to know the Grays until this summer, but he was sold on Eastern where he had visited for some showcases and all-star games.
"Eastern seemed like the best option for me,'' Grimsley said. "I know a lot of good players are gong up there. The coach (Matt Parker) gave me the best opportunity.''