McALESTER — Whatever momentum the Checotah Wildcats gained after scoring a run in the top of the first inning, the McAlester Buffaloes took it right back with an explosive bottom of the first.
After that, Buffs pitchers Michael Hyden and Conner Stewart made sure momentum stayed with the home team.
The Buffs scored nine times in the bottom of the first, and Hyden and Stewart combined for seven innings of three-hit baseball to beat the Wildcats 11-2 on Thursday at Mike Deak Field in McAlester.
“Any time you can go out and get 50, 60 extra at-bats a season or during the summer, that’s always going to be a positive,” Buffs coach Trent Homer said.
“This is where you get better. We see what we’re going to have going into next year.”
Andrew McBride led off the bottom of the first with a Buffs walk, then Taylor Mullins reached on a hit-by-pitch. Both players moved up on a passed ball; Jessie Robertson walked; then Chase Hass laced a single up the middle to score two and put McAlester ahead for good.
Robertson scored on a wild pitch, then Kabyn Kelley sacrificed Hass into scoring position. Hass scored on Tyler Stobaugh’s single to right, then Mackie Eales singled and Hyden walked to load the bases.
Wildcats starter Chris Ellerick beaned Kyle Morley to force in another McAlester run, then Stewart dropped a pitch into center field for a two-RBI single and a 7-1 lead. Stewart was the fifth Buff to get on base with two outs.
With Jorge Vargas at the plate, Morley stole second and scored when Cody Cox’s throw went into left field.
“Most of the time, if a two-out guy gets on by a walk or by a hit, more than likely it just starts snowballing, sometimes,” Homer said. “That’s why we like to make sure we get that third out as quick as we can.”