CLAREMORE – It may have been their sixth loss in a row, but the Grove Ridgerunners proved they belong with the elite in 5A baseball as they went toe-to-toe with 2nd-ranked Claremore before falling to the Zebras 5-4 in pool play of the Tiger/Zebra Classic Thursday afternoon.
The Ridgerunners (9-6) rallied from a 2-0 deficit with four runs in the top of the fifth to take the lead. Third baseman Erick Ryan delivered the big blow with a bases-loaded double that cleared the bases.
Kody Stephenson led off the inning with a single followed by a walk by Ty Morrow and an error on Kaden Livermore’s sacrifice bunt attempt to load the bases. A walk issued to Gibson Russ scored one run before Ryan’s blast gave Grove its first lead of the day.
Claremore, however, would rally right away. A lead off error on a bunt put a runner on to start the frame before Cole Weiesnbach tied the score with a home run off Grove starter Ty Phillips. Phillips had kept the Zebras (11-3) in check to that point. Claremore got two runs in the first inning with RBI doubles by T.J. Wood and Bryce Howe, but Phillips allowed just one hitter and three baserunners total over the next three innings before the Ridgerunner offense finally rallied for the lead.
But Grove could not get anything going against Claremore reliever Andrew Byington. Byington came on in relief of starter Dalton Clifton and held the Ridgerunners to just two hits and a walk over the final two innings to finish off the game.
Jacob Teague provided the winning run with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning off Ridgerunner reliever Kody Stephenson.
Grove will continue play in the Tiger/Zebra Classic on Friday and Saturday. Log on to www.grandlakenews.com and follow us on Twitter @GroveSunSports for the latest updates.