On Friday, May 10, the Ridgerunners competed in Oklahoma Cityin the 2019 Oklahoma Class 4A State Championship Tournament.
The game featured phenomenal pitching matchup, Grove's Chat Hayes against Harrah's Tyler DeLong. Both Hayes and DeLong were able to pitch no-hitters until the fourth inning.
In the top of the fourth, Zane Knox drew a walk to start the inning. With no outs, Knox successfully stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice fly ball hit by Jack Gentry. Knox scored on a wild pitch, scoring the first run of the game and giving the Ridgerunners the 1-0 lead.
During the bottom go the fourth, Hayes struck out two Harrah batters. Then next batter was walked. Hayes threw two more pitches and then called the coaches to the mound. Hayes would leave the game with an injury.
Replacing Hayes on the mound was Cade Coble. Harrah's batter was able to hit a double off of Coble's pitch, putting runners on second and third. Coble threw a curveball that bounced off of the catcher, Gentry. This error allowed the runner on third to cross hone plate, tying the game at one.
Harsh would gain momentum from that run and the next batter hit a pop fly out to center field. Senior center fielder Toby Cearley struggled with the catch, with the ball bouncing out of his glove, which allowed Harrah to score again, taking a 2-1 lead.
Grove continued to battle, but were unable to retake the lead. A seventh inning scoring opportunity presented itself, but the Ridgerunners were unable to capitalize and left Chase Coughran on third.
Harrah would win the game 2-1, ending the Ridgerunners' championship dreams and the 2019 season.
“That was tough,” Grove Head Baseball Coach Donny Pennington. “No one saw that coming. Give credit to Harrah though, they played clean. The difference in the game was they made no errors, we made two. They had two hits, we didn’t have any. I’m incredibly proud of this team. This group of seniors has won eighty-eight career games. The season before they arrived, the team won six. They won their District, three bi-districts, two Regionals, hosted a Regional, and qualified for the state tournament twice. To see where the program was and where they have brought us too, they’ve been incredible.”
The Ridgerunners lost 2-1 wrapping up the 2019 season with a 32-8 record.
Harrah's DeLong was able to carry his no-hitter throughout the game and registered one of two hits Harrah had in the game as well.
Grove's Hayes did not allow any hits. At the moment, not much is known about Hayes' injury, but he will visit a doctor in the early part of the week.
“It’s so tough to watch a kid who has worked his whole season only to leave his last game with an injury,” said Grove Pitching Coach Drew Osborne. “Then when that kid realizes he is unable to continue, he turns around and starts apologizing to his teammates because he can’t keep playing, my heart broke for him. This team was a family. They really cared about each other and played for each other. This was a special season. This group of guys really changed the culture of Grove baseball.”
Interestingly, Hayes signed at Coffeyville, while DeLong signed with Hutchinson, creating the possibility of a rematch from the mound next spring.
The final game of the day was rained out, pushing the Class 4A semi-finals to Tuesday, May 14. The championship game will be Wednesday, May 15.