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Duncan holds off Lone Grove in thrilling fashion on Day 1 of Southern Oklahoma Invitational

Norman shuts down Lawton MacArthur’s offense to advance to semifinals

By Glen Brockenbush 

Photo of Duncan's Jackson Poage 

DUNCAN - On the first day of its home tournament, Duncan won a see-saw game against a talented Lone Grove squad, outlasting the Longhorns, 7-6, at the Southern Oklahoma Invitational.

The Demons advance to the semifinals where they’ll play Guthrie, who used a massive sixth inning to pull away from Altus.

Meanwhile, Norman got an impressive pitching performance from Noah Flanagan to keep Lawton MacArthur in check, 5-2. Marlow also made easy work of Ardmore, winning 9-1.

Duncan 7, Lone Grove 6

The Longhorns received a rude welcome with two strikeouts at the hands of Duncan’s Eli Ramirez in a 1-2-3 first inning. Ramirez, also the Demons’ leadoff hitter, got on base and later scored on a passed ball to give the reigning 5A state champs a 1-0 lead.

Lone Grove had chances to score, as Ramirez walked the bases loaded in the top of the second inning, but struck out the last batter of the inning to get out of the jam. The Longhorns put two runners on with no outs in the third, and eventually got a runner across the plate to tie the score.

Duncan retook the lead when a balk by Lone Grove pitcher Gavin Watkins allowed another runner to score in the bottom of the third. After walking five batters, Ramirez was relieved on the mound by Raymond Garland in the fourth.

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There would be a total of 22 walks between the two teams on the day.

After Jackson Grace walked, Brody Harris bunted cleanly to give the Longhorns two runners and no outs.

A passed ball moved those runners up a base, and Deacon Singleton’s sacrifice fly scored the tying run. Kyle Miller then drove home Harris, but was thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple; but still, the visitors had taken the lead.

However, Duncan regained the lead in the next half-inning.

That didn’t last long, as Lone Grove loaded the bases in the fifth and Duncan brought in Preston Giles to pitch. He proceeded to walk Jase Howell and Watkins, bringing home two runs as the Longhorns eventually led, 6-5.

A similar situation came up when Duncan loaded the bases in the sixth, and Chago Barham walked home a run. The next batter, Blake Barnard, hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Ramirez, giving the Demons a 7-6 lead.

Giles gave up a double, and then walked a batter in the top of the seventh. Duncan coach Grant Oliver opted to intentionally walk Howell to load the bases with two outs.

The strategy paid off, as Giles got Watkins to ground out, ending the game and allowing Duncan fans - and Oliver - to breathe a sigh of relief.

“We had to go a lot deeper (in the bullpen) then we thought,” Oliver said. “(Giles) kind of got us out of a jam. And we didn’t know who we were going to go with in the seventh, but he said, ‘Coach, I want it,’ and he took charge.

"I said, ‘Go get it.’”

Norman 5, Lawton MacArthur 2

Norman was able to capitalize on MacArthur mistakes early, scoring three runs in the second inning thanks to several hit batters. Liam McKinney and Rylan Schuchman each had an RBI, while Robby Jones drove in two.

Neither team was able to generate much offense, with only a total of eight hits between the two squads.

MacArthur threw its ace, Stephen Brown, who allowed two hits and three earned runs over four innings.

The Tigers threw Noah Flanagan, who allowed just three hits and struck out six across five innings. Jonah Jackson threw an inning of relief while Dax Noles closed things out.

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With a district series against Mustang coming up on Monday and Tuesday, Norman coach Cody Merrell had to weigh how he wanted to handle his pitching staff.

“You have to lay it out, think who’s throwing on Monday and set it up from there,” he said. “We handled situations very well.

"As long as those guys step off the mound and let their heart rate calm down, they do all right in those situations.”

Guthrie 10, Altus 5

Altus got two runners aboard early, and Kylin Monday drove home Jaden Dean on a sacrifice fly. A hit by KG Schmidt scored Hunter Meyers to put the Bulldogs up, 2-0.

Guthrie responded with a run in the bottom half of the first inning, but left two runners stranded against Monday on the mound.

In the bottom of the second, Kellen Hirzel got aboard with a single, and Hayden Calvert got on via an error.

Jackson Walters drove home Hirzel, while Calvert later scored on a sacrifice grounder by Cale Evans.

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The Bulldogs tied it in the top of the fifth, and the score remained 3-all heading into bottom of the sixth.

Willy Clymer walked, and Evans drove him home with a double. Carson Wilder did the same, scoring Evans. Zach Henry reached on a dropped third strike, and later stole second.

But with two outs and two strikes on Josh Dement, it looked bleak. However, a second dropped third strike allowed Dement to reach, allowing Wilder to score.

Hirzel then walked to load the bases. Wild pitches allowed another run to score and runners to advance. But the real damage came with the bases loaded when Walters hit a ball to left field that was misplayed, allowing all three runners to score as the Blue Jays broke the game wide open.

Marlow 9, Ardmore 1

The Outlaws got a run in each of the first two innings, but still felt like they should have been up by even more. They put five more runs up on the board over the next two innings, with RBIs from Hudson Morgan, Blayde Harris and Cooper Smith.

Smith went 4-for-4 on the day with two runs scored and an RBI. Morgan drove in two runs, as did Brisco Smith. Keller Kizarr and Mason Holding each scored twice.

Cole Pettit threw six innings, gave up just four hits and struck out five. Ardmore finally got on the board in the seventh.