The Ridgerunners matched up with Jay on Monday and Tuesday, March 1 and 2, for a home and home series, where the team won both games by a combined score of 23-2.
The Ridgerunners are now 14-3 overall and 8-0 in the district. They will play in the Mickey Mantle Classic this weekend taking on McDonald County, Ft. Gibson, and another team from the other side of the bracket.
Grove head coach Donny Pennington was pleased after the two games.
“Getting those two wins was big for us. It really gave us some momentum in the district,” Pennington said. “Now we need to continue to play well going into this weekend at the Mickey Mantle Tournament.”
Grove 8, Jay 1
Chat Hayes started on the mound for the Ridgerunners and looked dominate in the top of the first inning hitting 86 mph and striking out two of the first three Bulldogs he faced.
Hayes got the win, threw 6.0 innings allowing 1 unearned run on 4 hits, zero walks, and 11 strikeouts. Cooper Smith pitched the seventh inning and finished with a final line of 1.0 innings, no runs, no hits, and 2 strikeouts.
Ridgerunner pitching coach Drew Osborne was happy with Hayes’ performance.
“Chat didn’t have his best stuff tonight. He really worked all three pitches more than we’ve worked them in a game up to this point,” Osborne said. “Chat was able to compete and attack. When you don’t have your best stuff, you still have to find a way to give your team a chance to win.
"He did that by attacking the zone. He didn’t walk a single batter or give up a free base tonight.”
The Ridgerunners threatened in the bottom of the first loading the bases with one out, but a harmless popup and a hard hit line drive ended the inning with no runs crossing the plate.
Jay was able to score a run in the top of the second inning after a two-out single was overrun by the Ridgerunners right fielder.
The Ridgerunners struck right back in the bottom of the inning. Colin Craig and Lane Rutherford each worked a walk before pulling off a double steal.
Hayes Pavatt squeezed to tie the game and was able to beat out the throw for a single.
The Bulldogs tried to backpick the runner at third but the throw went into the outfield scoring another Ridgerunner run.
With two outs, Jack Gentry grounded out to second base but was able to drive the runner on third in to make the score 3-1 in favor of the Ridgerunners.
Chase Coughran drove in two runs in the bottom of the fourth with a single through the right side.
Cearley and Knox, who had both singled, were able to score on the play. Seth Willis doubled two batters later to drive in two more Ridgerunners.
At the end of the inning, the Ridgerunners held a six run lead with a 7-1 score.
The Ridgerunners scored one more run in the bottom of the fifth inning when Hayes helped himself out with an RBI single. The game stayed at 8-1 the rest of the way.
Grove 15, Jay 1
The game in Jay featured an electric atmosphere. The Ridgerunners went down in order in the top of the first inning.
The Bulldogs took advantage of two Ridgerunners errors which both would have ended the inning to score their first run. After the first, the Bulldogs were up 1-0.
The Ridgerunners came back with a furious barrage of hits in the top of the second inning. Coughran started the inning with a walk but was forced out at second on a ground ball.
Willis singled to left putting runners at first and second. Rutherford struck out before Colin Craig was hit by a pitch loading the bases. With two outs, Logan Engles hit a sharp ground ball that was misplayed by the Bulldog second baseman.
Cearley followed with a triple to deep left center field clearing the bases. Knox singled Cearley home and moved to third when Gentry doubled. Coughran hit a grounder up the middle that scored two more runs.
Hayes followed with a single before the Ridgerunners finally made the third out of the inning. After scoring seven runs in the inning, the Ridgerunners had a 7-1 lead.
Rutherford scored in the top of the third when Cearley roped a single to center with two outs. The Ridgerunners were now up 8-1.
In the top of the fourth, Gentry was hit by a pitch. Gunner Jensen courtesy ran for him and stole second. Jensen scored when Hayes doubled to right center. Grove was now up 9-1.
The top of the fifth was another big inning for the Ridgerunners as they plated six more runs taking a 15-1 lead.
With the bases loaded, Gentry hit a double to left center scoring two runs. Knox scored on a wild pitch before Hayes doubled to deep right center field.
Coble finished out the bottom fifth without incident sealing the win. Coble finished throwing 5.0 innings allowing only the unearned run in the first. Coble gave up just two hits, two walks, one hit by pitch, and struck out 9.
The Ridgerunners will be back in action when the Varsity and JV both play in different divisions of the Mickey Mantle Classic.
On Friday, April 5, the JV will play at noon against Sarcoxie out of Missouri at Joe Becker Stadium. The Varsity will play in Commerce at that evening at 7 p.m., against Ft. Gibson.
Both teams will be in action on Saturday against a team to be determined at a time to be determined and at a location to be determined.
There will be a banquet on Saturday evening in Commerce celebrating the teams and the players that participated in the tournament.