WILBURTON — The McAlester Jr. Buffaloes produced runs with their bats, and they produced runs with their feet.
Combined with quality pitching from starter Brandon Rutledge, the Jr. Buffs wrapped up their season with a run-rule tournament victory.
Rutledge pitched three scoreless innings, and McAlester’s potent offense exploded for 11 runs to beat the Wister Wildcats in four innings, 11-0, at Saturday’s Wilburton Middle School Hardball Classic championship.
The win wrapped up a 17-3 season for the Jr. Buffs.
“They had grit, and when they got challenged, they came back and they battled and they took care of business,” McAlester coach Bret Lalli said.
Though the Wildcats twice caught the Jr. Buffs trying to steal second, McAlester’s aggressive baserunning helped far more often than it hurt, especially in the top of the fourth inning. Vinny Williams led off with a walk and quickly stole second — his second steal of the day.
Wister starter Jeffrey Morris struck out Rutledge, but catcher Dawson Restine dropped the third strike, then couldn’t throw out Rutledge at first, leaving two Buffs on with no outs. With Jett Wood at the plate, Williams then broke for third base.
Restine threw to third to try for the pickoff, but his throw sailed into the outfield, allowing Williams to score and Rutledge to get to second.
Wood eventually drew a walk, then Rutledge tried for third. Again Restine overthrew third base, this time allowing both Rutledge and Wood to score for an 11-0 lead.
“We’ve really emphasized baserunning, probably more than hitting or fielding or pitching or anything,” Lalli said. “It’s been a big deal for us to be good on the basepaths, and we have some phenomenal athletes. I really have to give it up to them. They were getting good jumps. They were making good reads. They’re doing things right.”