PENSACOLA, Florida – The long bus drive home today will still be long, but it will be a little more manageable for the Durant High School baseball team after a late-inning comeback on Thursday afternoon.
The Lions rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to slip by Bartlett, Tennessee, 8-7, on the final day of the 24th Annual Aggie Classic Tournament. Durant finishes 1-3 and was quite competitive in the sprawling tourney which featured 27 schools from six states in games played at seven different schools in the Pensacola area.
Thursday’s tourney finale played at West Florida High School didn’t start particularly well for the Lions. Bartlett, now 2-2 with tourney wins over Pryor and Choctaw, jumped on Durant starting pitcher Connor Roberts for four runs in the opening inning. Three of the first four Panther hitters lined singles up in the middle in their first at bat which also included a DHS error and a sacrifice bunt.
Durant sent 11 batters to the plate in the second and took its first lead.
Singles by Gavin Daws and Kyle Hughes got the run-scoring binge started. After Daws was forced at third, Cade Ogden reached on an error to load the bases. Bartlett pitcher Brandon Bone then struck out Dylon Polson for the second out of the inning, but Bone walked Matthew Knox and Jensen Simmons to cut the deficit to 4-2.
With the bases still loaded, Roberts cleared the sacks with a booming double into the leftfield gap. Durant reloaded the bases with a Kolby Blake hit by pitch and a Daws walk, but reliever Chris Braswell struck out Hughes to end the inning.
Down 5-4, the Panthers scored single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to build the 7-5 lead it would hold until the sixth. Braswell pitched well in the middle innings holding the Lions at bay, even working out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth.
The Lions finally chased Braswell in the sixth and regained the advantage.
Simmons led off the inning with double into the leftfield corner. That brought in sidewinder Tyler King who promptly fanned Roberts and Blake. But the Lions still rallied for three runs behind hits from Dakota Finley and Cade Buchanan and a pair of crucial walks drawn by Brady Nichols and Ogden, whose free pass came with the bases loaded pushed across what would become the winning run.
Ogden came up big on the mound as well. The breaking ball pitcher held the Panthers scoreless over the final two innings, working his way out of a bases loaded difficulty in the sixth to pick up the mound win in relief.
Durant coach Ron Moore pretty much emptied the bench in picking up the getaway day victory.
“We told them before we left on the trip we were going to get anybody and everybody in as much as we possibly can because it’s a team effort,” Moore said afterward. “We’re still trying to fit the pieces together.
“A lot of guys did some good things today. Cade Ogden just throws strikes. His curveball is slow but he can spot that thing and then he can throw his fastball in and out and up and down. He gets a lot of guys to miss.”
Roberts pitched five innings yielding seven run on eight hits with four strikeouts. Ogden,1-0, walked two and struck out three including the final two outs of that bases loaded jam.
Offensively, Durant ended up with 10 hits. Cade Buchanan had two with eight Lions collected one hit apiece.
Durant saw plenty of good teams during its five day stay that started rainy and was unseasonably cool for Florida. It’s back to Oklahoma with a game next Monday at Dickson to be followed by home dates Tuesday and Thursday versus Hugo and Ada.
“It’s good on a tough week to head home with a win,” Moore added.
Jim Reagan is Sports Director for KSEO/KLBC Radio in Durant