ENID, Okla. — Southwest Shockers coach Eric Fultz felt bad for the Enid Plainsmen after Fultz’s Shockers scored three runs without a hit in the bottom of the seventh to beat the Plainsmen 5-4 in the quarterfinals of the Connie Mack State Tournament Saturday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
“When Brad (Enid coach Gore) shook my hand, I told him, ‘You outplayed us and deserved to win,’’’ Fultz said. “We got lucky.’’
The Shockers, held to two hits by Enid’s Jake McCool in trailing 4-2 after six innings, tallied the winning runs on the strength of two errors, two walks, two sacrifices and a wild pitch.
Houston Davis led off by reaching on an error. Carson Kinnaird walked — only the third free pass given up by McCool. Peyton Ladon sacrificed Davis and pinch runner Jack Chester to third and second. O’Shea Whiteside walked to load the bases.
That brought in reliever Jake Kennedy, who allowed a sac fly by Connor Thaxton to score Davis. Chester went to third on the play. Chester scored on a wild pitch. Enid catcher Garrett Brooks overthrew third trying to get Whiteside trying to advance from first.
“I’ve won games on some walk-offs, but nothing like that,’’ Fultz said. “It helps when you have a lot of speed on the basepaths (all three who scored run the 60 in the 6.6 range). Enid played well. They don’t make mistakes and they are well-coached. We made a lot of mistakes, but somehow we stayed in the ballgame.’’
Gore said the loss was a learning experience for his young team.
“You know what, there’s nothing you can do about it but learn from it,’’ he said. “We have to learn to get over that hump when the pressure is on a little bit and make some plays and make some pitches. It’s part of growing up as a team and as a player. We just have to learn from it and move on. It was a great game. I thought our kids battled hard. It was a tough way to lose a game against a really good team. I’m really proud of them.”
Gore agreed with Fultz that the Shockers’ speed made the difference in the end.
“The guy going from first to third put some pressure on us,’’ he said. “You have to give them credit for playing hard and not quitting.’’
McCool allowed only a single by Davis in the second and a double by Zac DeLong in the third. DeLong scored off an error. Both of the Shockers’ runs in the first six innings were unearned. McCool walked only two over that period while striking out four. Third baseman Blake Priest robbed Thaxton of two hits with outstanding defense.
“He pitched a great game,’’ Gore said. “He just threw a lot of strikes and had command of both pitches. He threw them in the strike zone when he needed to and competed hard. We played good defense until there at the end when it got away from us.’’
McCool was able to keep the Shockers Red off-balance with his offspeed stuff in the range of 60-75 mph.
“It was a little bit slower than we’re used to,’’ Fultz said. “He mixed his pitches well. He hit his spot. It doesn’t matter about the speed until he hits his spots.’’
Gore said he probably went “15 more pitches than I wanted to,’’ with McCool.
“He was throwing so good that I didn’t want to change it,’’ Gore said. “He ran out of gas. We got an out with Kennedy and then the wheels came off. I’m so proud of our kids for playing hard this summer. It takes a big commitment to be a great player, and the kids did that this summer.’’
Enid jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first. Will Fleece reached on an error, then went to third on a throwing error on a stolen base. Reese Slater walked and Brooks was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Zach McEachern hit a two-RBI double off the right centerfield wall. Tyler Holland’s two-out single scored Brooks.
Fleece scored Enid’s other run in the second when he walked, stole second and scored on Brooks’ sac fly.
Shockers Red pitcher Josh Bumgarner settled down after that. He struck out eight over six and a third innings before giving way to reliever Caleb Amparon after walking Fleece in the seventh. Amparon hit Slater with a pitch and walked Brooks to load the bases, but struck out McEachern and Brock Slater to end the inning.
“Our pitcher settled down and kept us in it,’’ Fultz said. “That was a big strikeout with the bases loaded. It gave us some momentum.’’
The Plainsmen finished their season at 17-10.
“It’s sad, but like I told the guys, we were one out away from being in the final four in the Connie Mack state tournament without having our whole high school team together,’’ Gore said. “I hate it to end this way for our kids, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort. It just didn’t happen today. All the time we spent here this summer is going to pay off for us in the spring.’’
Southwest Shockers Red fell to top-seeded Seng MVP 5-2 in the semifinals. Division I commits Dax Fulton (Vanderbilt, seven, four innings), Cade Horton (Oklahoma, six, two innings) and Shattuck’s John Bay (one) combined for 14 strikeouts. Fulton had a two-RBI single in the sixth. Horton had an RBI and scored a run. They will play the Woodward Travelers at noon Sunday for the championship.
Woodward advanced to the finals with wins over the Shawnee Phillies, 8-7, and OKC Sandlot Painter, 5-1. The win puts the Travelers in the upcoming South Plains Regional at David Allen since MVP Seng has already qualified. Southwest Shockers Red already has qualified as well.
The Phillies had scored seven runs in the third to tie the game at 7-7. Woodward relievers Colin Hunter and Dillon Bumgarner shut out the Phillies over the last four innings. Patrick Hunter scored the winning run in the fourth when he walked and scored after an error after a single by David Garcia. Drake Kerr and Colin Hunter both had two RBI for the Travelers.
Bumgarner and Will Farr combined for a three-hitter against Sandlot Painter. The Travelers scored once in the first and twice in the fourth and fifth. They had 10 hits.