By Matt Goisman
STUART — The Hartshorne Miners’ defense twice gave away leads, and Chance Parker and their bats twice got it back.
Parker came up with two bases-loaded hits, the second of which scored Tyler Lindley to give the Miners a 10-9 walkoff victory against the Oktaha Tigers in Saturday’s Stuart Spring Baseball Tournament championship.
The win served as a measure of vengeance for the Miners, who’d lost twice to Oktaha earlier in the season.
“As long as you’ve got outs, you’ve got life,” Miners coach Justin James said.
“I was proud of them for being able to just get right back and scrap with one half-inning left to find a way to win it.”
Three two-out errors by Hartshorne had given Oktaha six runs in the top of the seventh and a 9-6 lead, but Tigers reliever Tyler Edgar ran into trouble when he walked Hartshorne’s Troy Ray and Dru Barrier with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Edgar got Brett Akins to fly out to center field, but Colton Tubbs doubled to left to score Ray and put two in scoring position.
Tigers coach Kevin Rodden brought Daceauda Davis in to pitch, but Davis immediately threw a wild pitch to Lindley, allowing Barrier to come home to make it a one-run game. Davis then walked Lindley with two outs.
Davis fell behind Braxton Curliss but eventually worked the count to 3-2. Curliss then belted one towards left, and though shortstop Josiah LaSarge managed to corral the grounder with a dive, LaSarge couldn’t do anything more.
Ledgen Angeli, Tubbs’ courtesy runner, scored to tie the game 9-9 on the infield single.
“We’re a little thin on arms,” Oktaha coach Kevin Rodden said. “Late in the tournament, you’re running some kids up there that don’t have a lot of experience (pitching).”
A passed ball moved Lindley to third and Curliss to second, so the Tigers intentionally walked Blake Tubbs to load the bases.
That set up the freshman Parker, who singled sharply past a diving Josh Sparrow at first base to score Lindley and complete the comeback victory.
“I was just hoping, if it was close, to fight it off, and ended up squaring it up,” Parker said of his game-winning single.
“I was up on the plate and already waiting on the outside pitch.”
The Miners also overcame a two-run deficit earlier in the game, having fallen behind 3-1 in the top of the fifth when Bradley McCoy singled to left to drive in a run, with another run scoring on Takoma Alexander’s outfield error. But Colton Tubbs drew a walk to begin the bottom of the fifth, then Tigers starting pitcher Austin Crowder hit Lindley.
Curliss sacrificed the runners to second and third, then Blake Tubbs drew a walk to load the bases. Up came Parker, who promptly drilled a pitch over McCoy’s head in right field.
All three runners scored, and Ezekiel made it to third for the bases-clearing triple and a 4-3 lead. Parker scored one batter later on a double by Seth Ezekiel, and Ezekiel eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Akins for a 6-3 Miners lead.
Parker finished 3-for-4 with four runs batted in and a run scored.
Lindley’s sacrifice fly gave Hartshorne a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third. Oktaha tied it on an RBI single by LaSarge in the top of the fourth.
Akins pitched a complete game for the Miners, giving up nine runs on 11 hits, a walk and six strikeouts. He almost escaped the top of the seventh giving up just two runs, getting LaSarge to ground one at Parker at third base.
With LaSarge not a particularly fast runner, Parker had plenty of time to throw him out. But Parker’s throw to first bounced in the dirt in front of the bag, allowing LaSarge to reach safely on the errant throw, the inning to continue and eventually four more runs to score.
“It’s very difficult to give up the lead like we did, and have such a poor top of the seventh inning, and then come back in and not be down,” James said.
“This helps, that they actually can come back and win one and see that it’s not just ‘coach talk,’ that it can be done. They’re going to gain confidence from it.”
With the win, Hartshorne improved to 14-4. Oktaha fell to 10-4.
Proceeds from the tournament went to Autism Speaks, an autism science and advocacy organization with offices in New York City, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
Contact Matt Goisman at firstname.lastname@example.org.