By Dave Ruthenberg, Commentary
Enid News and Eagle
BARTLESVILLE — —
J.R. Head singled in Chase Knott in the bottom of the ninth to give Northern Oklahoma College Enid a 3-2 win over Murray State in the losers bracket finals of the Region 2 baseball championships Saturday.
The Jets, 38-22, opened the day by eliminating Redlands 12-1 in seven innings.
The two wins put the Jets into the championship round against defending national champion Western Oklahoma College at 1 p.m. today. NOC Enid will have to beat the Pioneers twice to qualify for the district championships at Dodge City, Kan.
“We did exactly what we set out to do,’’ said NOC Enid assistant coach Scott Mansfield. “Anytime you win two games like we did today, you have some momentum. We think we match up well with Western. We’ll see what happens.’’
Shawn Hunter allowed only three hits against the Aggies, who were the regular season Oklahoma Collegiate Athletic Conference champions.
He struck out nine and walked only once. More importantly, he allowed the Jets to save their pitching for today. Jonathan Johnson threw a complete game against Redlands.
All the pitching staff, except for Johnson and Hunter, will be available today, Mansfield said.
“Everybody tells me they’re ready to go,’’ Mansfield said. “Shawn kept battling today and kept us in the game. J.J. did the same thing.’’
The Jets, who scored two runs in the eighth to tie the game at 2-2, loaded the bases in the ninth on a walk to Tanner Cruts, Knott reaching on an error on his sacrifice bunt and Logan Glasgow’s bunt single.
Tyler Wilkins forced Cruts at the plate, but Head delievered a sinle to score Knott with the winning run.
It was sweet revenge for the Jets, who were swept by the Aggies in the conference season.
“It’s always good to get redemption,’’ Mansfield said. “To win like we did today, you couldn’t have asked for anything better.’’
Wilkins, with one out, had started the rally in the eighth by reaching on an error. Head followed with a single. Brandon Ruiz doubled both home to tie the game.
The Jets had been limited to three hits the first seven innings by Murray State’s Chad Newland.
“We never veer from our goal,’’ Mansfield said. “The guy had us off balanced, but we kept battling and trying to keep the pressure on. I think this shows the character of the team and how goal-driven we are.’’
Murray scored both of its runs in the third on the strength of two singles, a sacrifice and an error.
NOC ENID 12, REDLANDS 1
Every starter either had a hit or scored a run as the Jets stayed alive in impressive fashion.
NOC Enid blew the game open with six runs in the fiffth, four in the sixth and one in the seventh to win on the 10-run rule.
Jonathan Johnson went the distance, allowing only five hits. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.
Kyle Callahan, batting in the No. 9 hole, was 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored.
Chase Knott, the No. 8 hole hitter, was 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. Tanner Cruts, the No. 6 hole hitter, was 2-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI.
J.R. Head was 3-for-5 with RBI and a run scored. Brandon Ruiz was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run scored. Christian Faulkner was 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.
Redlands scored its only run in the second.