GROVE - The Grove Ridgerunner baseball team kicked off their season at home on Monday night with a 3-2 loss against district opponent Oologah. The loss was not the start the Ridgerunners wanted coming off their 32-win 2019 season.

Oologah 3, Grove 2

Ridgerunner starting pitcher Colin Craig struck out the first batter of the season and breezed through the first inning. Layne Rutherford led off the bottom of the first inning with a single up the middle and stole second before moving to third on a wild pitch. Chase Coughran then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to give the Ridgerunners a 1-0 lead.

The lead was short lived as the Mustangs capitalized on two hits and three walks in the second inning scoring two runs. Craig finished his outing strong throwing a total of 5.0 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits. He walked 5 hitters and struck out 7. Hank Hacker came in relief and struggled to find the strike zone competing in three at bats but ultimately walking all three hitters he faced. Hacker got tagged for 1 run allowed after he left the game. Cooper Smith threw the final two innings allowing just one base runner and striking out two.

Down 3-1 in the team's last turn at bat, the Ridgerunners found a way to battle back and create some early season late game drama. With one out, Rutherford collected his second hit of the game with a hard hit ground ball up the middle. After a strikeout, Coughran worked a full count walk to put runners on first and second. The Mustangs pitched around Craig walking him to load the bases. Smith was hit by a pitch driving in a run and making the score 3-2. Isaac Lopez came to bat and got into a fastball driving it deep into centerfield where the centerfielder ran it down ending the game.

“It’s a tough way to start the season,” said Grove Head Coach Drew Osborne. “We battled and were right where we wanted to be at the end with a chance to win. We had one of the guys we wanted at the plate up, he got a pitch he could drive, we just didn’t find a way to win the game. Honestly we didn’t put enough balls in play. These guys will compete and fight and we will continue to grow.”

Osborne was referencing the 13 strikeouts the Ridgerunner batters compiled throughout the game.

Logan Engles doubled in the fifth inning and Lopez doubled in the sixth inning. Those were the only other Ridgerunner hits on the night. Rutherford was 2 for 3 with 2 singles, 2 runs scored, 1 walk, and 2 stolen bases. Engles was 1 for 4 with a double and 3 strikeouts. Coughran was 0 for 1 with a sacrifice fly, 2 walks, and a run batted in. Craig was 0 for 2 with 2 walks and 1 strikeout. Smith was 0 for 2 with a walk, hit by pitch, and run batted in. Lopez was 1 for 4 with a double. Wyatt Wall was 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. Hayes Pavatt and Ayden Hunsperger both went 0 for 2 with 2 strikeouts. Corbin Beal and Duncan Highley both had pinch hit appearances and struck out. Jace McPhetridge and Caden Gain both entered the game as pinch runners.