Enid News and Eagle
BARTLESVILLE — —
Defending national champion Western Oklahoma overcame a early 5-0 deficit to beat Northern Oklahoma College Enid, 11-6 in the championship game of the Region 2 baseball tournament Sunday.
The Jets, the No. 5 seed, didn’t go down easy, pounding out 12 hits, including four by J.R. Head in his final game as an NOC Enid player. Christian Faulkner, Logan Bradley and Chase Knott all had two hits.
Faulkner drove in three runs while Head had two RBI.
“The guys left everything they had on the field,’’ said Jets assistant coach Scott Mansfield. “Coach (Jets head coach Raydon) Le-aton and I and all the fans there were proud of the effort the kids gave throughout the tournament.’’
The Jets led 5-0 after scoring twice in the first and three times in the fourth, but the Pioneers came alive after that with four runs in the fifth and seventh, one in the sixth and two in the ninth.
The Pioneers, 41-18, had 16 hits. Michael Cruz and Marty Dunlap were both 3-for-6. Cruz had three RBI and Dunlap two.
“They were able to string together a bunch of tweeners,’’ Mansfield said. “It was kind of hard for us to get them to hit right at us. We didn’t hand them anything. We made them earn everything.’’
Jets starter Justin Sheets had a shutout going until the fith when the Pioneers broke out on five hits, a walk and a balk to cut the lead to 5-4. Cruz singled in Willie Allen with two out in the sixth to tie the score.
The Pioneers took the lead with four runs in the seventh with Allen’s two-RBI double and RBI singles by Dunlap and Cruz being the big blows.
The Jets cut the lead to 9-6 in the eighth on doubles by Knott and Head.
Western got two insurance runs in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Dunlap and Allen scoring on an error.
The Jets opened the scoring in the first when Head singled and scored after a double by Brandon Ruiz and an ground out by Faulkner. Bradley singled in Ruiz.
NOC Enid added three more in the fourth when Tyler Wilkins walked, was sacrificed to second and scored after a single by Kyle Callahan and a double by Head. Faulkner doubled home Head and Callahan.
Skyluar Neal came in the sixth for the Pioneers and slowed down the bleeding.
“The guys were able to put the ball on the ball and put pressure on them,’’ Mansfield said. “We did what we were supposed to do.’’
While disappointed about the loss, the Jets (38-23) left the stadium feeling better about themselves than they did before the tournament started on Saturday.
“Toward the end of the season, we didn’t know what our team identity was,’’ Mansfield said. “We found out what kind of team we had here — we didn’t say die. We claw and scratch for everything we got. I think we showed our true colors.
“We have to take what we have and build on it for next year. We want to get back to the championship game, but with a different result.’’
Western moves on to the district, which begins Saturday in Dodge City, Kan.