CHICKASHA - The Durant Lions rode strong pitching for 13 innings Thursday evening before having to settle for a split of pool games on the opening day of the Washita Valley Classic to run their season record to 8-5.
Coach Ron Norman’s squad got a spectacular complete game pitching effort from senior Austin Joines in the opener to surprise last year’s district champ and state semifinalist Noble, 5-3. In the nightcap, however, they wasted another sensational mound effort from Brandon Robison, who worked six strong frames but didn’t figure in the decision of the 6-4 loss to Class 4A Elgin.
The Lions were slated to wrap up pool action on Friday afternoon at 4:45 but still have a chance of reaching the tournament championship on Saturday on a tiebreaker with a victory.
Joines got off to a bit of a slow start in the opener against Noble, yielding three runs on three hits, but settled in to stifle the Bears over the final six frames. He struck two but walked only one.
Durant took a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the top of the first when Joines singled, Alex Brooks walked and both scored on a Riley Hendrix double.
Noble answered with three runs to take the lead before the Lions took advantage of an error in the third as Brooks walked and scored on a Brandon Maynard groundout. Joines, Brooks and Cooper Webb provided consecutive singles to plate the go-ahead run in the fourth. Durant wrapped up the scoring in the sixth as Matthew Knox was hit by a pitch and scored on Brooks’ double.
Joines and Brooks ended with two hits apiece to pace the offense. Webb, Hendrix and Maynard totaled one each.
In the nightcap Robison posted the best start of his career, working into the seventh inning while allowing just three hits with seven strikeouts.
The Lions’ trouble came in the final stanza as they saw a 3-0 lead slip away quickly as a host of relievers had difficulty finding the strike zone with seven free passes sandwiched around a pair of Durant errors. Elgin pushed across six runs in the seventh without a single hit, but Durant wouldn’t fold by answering with a run after a Brooks hit in the seventh but left the bases loaded to end the game.
Durant picked up its first run in the third after two Elgin errors and a terrific squeeze bunt by Knox. They added two more runs in the fifth after a Joines two-run double.
The Lions managed just four hits with one each by Joines, Brooks, Robison and Maynard.