TAHLEQUAH – A strong performance from senior pitcher Gibson Russ and some timely hitting helped the Grove Ridgerunners move to 3-0 on the season with an 8-2 win over Tahlequah on the Tigers’ home diamond Tuesday.
Russ threw all seven innings, giving up two runs in the third inning, to go along with six hits while striking out eight in picking up his second win in two starts this season. The win was also the second over the Tigers, as the Ridgerunners won Monday’s game in Grove 2-1.
“He looks good,” Grove head coach Bret Bouher said of Russ. “He just believes. His confidence level is pretty high.”
The Ridgerunners took the lead right away when leadoff hitter Ty Morrow started the game with a triple to straight away centerfield. After a walk by Kaden Livermore, Russ hit a sacrifice fly to left field to put Grove up 1-0.
Grove took advantage of one of Tahlequah’s five errors to push across three more runs in the second. Livermore drove in two runs with a double to right centerfield, while Russ and Eric Ryan both hit wind-blown popups in the outfield that fell for hits. Justin Tesreau drove in the third run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
“We hit some balls right at them [Monday] and today they helped us out a little bit and we had some balls bounce our way,” Bouher said.
Grove was limited to four hits by Tahlequah’s Austin Riley in Monday’s win, but pounded out 10 hits on Tuesday against three different Tiger pitchers.
“The guy they threw [Monday] was tough,” Bouher said. “He threw the fastball for strikes, threw the breaking ball for strikes. We got hits at the right time today. We got some timely hits today and had lots of chances to score.”
Tahlequah would get their runs in the bottom of the third thanks to a leadoff walk followed by back-to-back doubles by the Tigers’ Logan Lewis and Riley. Russ would get a flyout to centerfield and a strikeout to end the inning then retired nine of the next 10 batters to take command of the game.
"Give the credit to Grove," Tahlequah head coach Nick Zodrow said. "They flat out wanted it more."
Morrow would add a run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth while Kody Stephenson had an RBI single in the fifth. Russ would pick up another RBI with a triple in the top of the sixth and was driven home on a single by Ryan to close out the scoring.
The Ridgerunners will look to extend their undefeated start on Thursday when they travel to Sallisaw before hosting Vinita on Friday. Grove is also 3-0 in District 5A-3 and will jump back into district play when they travel to Tulsa Washington on Monday before hosting the Hornets on Tuesdays.
“We’ve pitched well all three games,” Bouher said. “We’ve had four guys pitch and all of them have pitched well. It feels pretty good right now.”