ENID, Okla. — There wasn’t the emotion that had been there a week earlier when they won the Connie Mack Southern Plains Regional, but Enid Majors coach Kris Webb was a mighty happy man after his team’s 3-1 win over the OK Drillers 18s in the state Connie Mack finals Sunday, July 18 at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
“God has blessed us with this opportunity,’’ said Webb of his 29-0 ball club. “We’re so thankful for the opportunity … the kids are so talented … they bought into the system and they wanted to win and to compete … most of all, thank you Lord.’’
Webb said the team will leave a legacy being the first Enid team to win both the state and Southern Plains regional championship. The Drillers won state a year ago after Enid had won the regional title the week before. Enid last won state in 2016.
“I know this doesn’t mean as much because we had already won the regional, but as I’ve told you this group is different. They wanted to solidify themselves as one of the best to ever wear Enid across its chest.’’
Kingfisher native Ian Daugherty was voted the tournament MVP after hitting .444 with 10 RBI, two doubles, a home run and 10 runs scored. He was 0-for-3 Sunday, but threw-out Ike Shirey trying to steal second in the first.
That proved to be big since Carson Hunt homered on the next pitch to give the Drillers a 1-0 lead.
“He had a great tournament,’’ Webb said “He did a helluva job behind the distance. He did a heck of a job blocking Carson’s (Benge) breaking pitches all day. He is an absolute superstar.’’
“It feels good,’’ Daugherty said. “I was just trying to do what was best for the team. It feels good to win for coach Webb. I knew this meant a lot to him. I was able to find some pitches I liked to drive. I just did my best to help the team win.’’
Hunt’s homer seemed to fire up Benge, who struck out eight, walked two and allowed five hits, He got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second with a strikeout and a fly out. Jack Hill and Tate Rupp opened the seventh with singles, but the game ended when pinch hitter Tanner Graves lined-out to second baseman Bryce Logan, who touched second to double-up Hill.
“I knew I had it,’’ Benge said. “I knew I had the game the whole way. I knew they couldn’t touch me. I made a mental mistake on the one pitch (home run). I made sure it didn’t happen again.’’
Hunt would strike out in his next two at-bats.
“The homer definitely triggered something in there,’’ Daugherty said. “We started to mix it up a little more. We were going with the fastball early on, but then we mixed it up more. I was a little nervous that last inning, but I had faith in the team and faith in Benge.’’
Webb had faith in Benge, the winning pitcher against MVP Heath in last week’s regional finals.
“He’s a bulldog,’’ Webb said. “He came in and said he wanted it and he wasn’t going to let it get away from him. If you want to win a game, you want Carson Benge on the mound.’’
The Majors strength up and down the batting order proved to be the difference again.
The bottom half of the batting order would fuel a three-run rally with two out in the second.
Will Edmundson and Drake Kerr, the No. 6 and No 7 hitters singled off Drillers starter Kyler Denton.
Edmundson scored on a single to left by Zandt Payne, the No. 8 hitter. Kerr and Payne were able to advance a base when the throw from the outfield got away.
Kade Goeke, whose father Steve had played for the Majors, hit a line drive off Denton to score both Kerr and Payne for what would be the winning runs.
“The guys ahead of me did their jobs and I was just trying to make good contact and I did,’’ Goeke said. “It feels good. This is a very good team with a lot of good guys. They will take nothing less than this. It feels good to do it for a team that I grew up watching.’’
Kerr and Payne had singles in the fourth, but were stranded on second and first.
“That was the bottom of our lineup,’’ Webb said. “We put a lot of pride into our base running. It was big that Kerr and Payne were able to take an extra base.’’
Denton allowed eight hits but kept Enid off the scoreboard the rest of the game. The Majors left a runner on third the fifth when Denton got Daugherty to pop up.
The Majors will begin play at the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, N.M. on Friday, July 23. They will learn their first round pool opponent on Thursday morning.
Webb said the players will car pool to New Mexico for the 10-hour trip. He hopes to be there Wednesday night.
Daugherty and Benge agreed it was great to play on state championship team, but thought the regional was better. That was one reason there were just high fives instead of a dog pile at the end,
“The regional meant more because we were wanting to go to Farmington so bad,’’ Daugherty said. “There were basically the same teams here that we played last week. We’re ready for Farmington, We just want to get some work in the next couple of days to work on some of our weaknesses.’’
Daugherty played for the Royal Scout team out of Kingfisher last summer. The OSU bound catcher was glad he hooked up with Webb and the Majors.
“It was sure good to play with a bunch of good guys that I grew up with,’’ he said.
Kerr and backup catcher Chase McCracken were the only returnees from last year’s team.
ENID MAJORS 3, OK DRILLERS 18s 1
Drillers 100 000 0 — 1 5 1
Majors 030 000 x — 3 8 1
WP — Benge, 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 R, 1 ER, 8 strikeouts, 2 walks. LP — Denton, 6 innings, 8 hits, 3 R, 2 ER, 4 strikeouts, one walk. Drillers — Shirey, 1-for-3; Hunt, 1-for-3, run scored, home run, RBI; Hill, 1-for-3; Rupp, 2-for-3; Hutchens, 1-for-2, sacrifice. Majors — Brumbaugh, 1-for-2; Hammack, 1-for-3; Edmundson, 1-for-3, run scored; Kerr, 2-for-3, run scored; Goeke, 1-for-2, 2 RBI