Special to the Grove Sun
OOLOGAH - Take away a half dozen Vinita errors and a brutal March wind in Wednesday afternoon’s opening round of pool play in the Oologah Invitational, and Jay’s Cory Stiefel was still almost more than enough for the Hornets. Scattering four hits over his complete game outing, the Bulldog hurler also accounted for a pair of runs scored as his team rolled to a 9-1 blowout. With one out in the top of the first frame, Steifel reached base on the first of Vinita’s bevy of miscues. Subsequently, the Jay starter scored the game’s first run when Kyle Shambaugh cracked a laser shot triple to the wall. Bulldog backstop J.J. Meeker put his team on top when he lashed a double, scoring Shambaugh. But a strong throw from the centerfielder and a semi vertical slide nipped Meeker trying to leg it out to third. Leading 2-0, Stiefel pitched around his team’s only error to keep the Hornets scoreless. In the Jay half of the second, Ty Moore started the hit parade with a leadoff single and crossed the plate on a Tyler Buss double. Buss then advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring on a Chuck Larrabee single. Larrabee scored when the Vinita right fielder mishandled Stiefel’s win swept flyball. The Bulldog pitcher scored again on Meeker’s second hit and RBI in as many appearances. Trailing 6-0 in the home half of the second, the Hornets got a one-out triple and finally got on the scoreboard when Ethan Ballew redeemed the run with an RBI single. But Stiefel struck out the next batter to limit the damage to a single tally. The Vinita starter, Parker Hollabaugh, was able to get the Bulldogs to go down in order in the bottom of both the third and the fourth. But despite picking up a hit in the bottom of the third as well as in the fourth, the Hornets couldn’t get to the Jay starter. Any doubt as to the game’s outcome was put to rest in the top of the fifth, when Shambaugh reached on a third base error. The swift senior then advanced to second with a stolen base and scored on Ty Kay’s base rap. Kay then swiped second, but had to hold there when Moore’s pop fly fell harmlessly between two Vinita defenders. Kay and Moore followed with a double steal that put them both in scoring position. And pinch hitter Choogie Smoke delivered the coup de grace when he slapped a base hit that scored the two runners that culminated into a three run inning. Steifel kept the Hornets off of the scoreboard for the big eight run victory. Claremore Sequoyah 3, Jay 2 As if it weren’t enough for them to deal with the unrelenting wind of Rogers County and a big Claremore left hander who consistently nibbled at the outer corner of the plate, the Jay Bulldogs had to overcome a run scoring balk and some bizarre umpiring in the second round of pool play Wednesday night at the Oologah Invitational Tournament. And to their credit, they almost did. Countering with their own southpaw, Tyler Buss got the starting nod for the Bulldogs and yielded a walk to Eagle leadoff man J.P Seifried. Seifried moved to second on a well-executed sacrifice bunt, but the Bulldog lefty got some good defense behind him to get out of the inning. In the home half of the first it looked as if Jay might get something going when Cory Stiefel drew a walk and moved up on J.J. Meeker’s two-out hit. But, using what was jokingly referred to in the press box as a 48 MPH breaking ball, Sequoyah’s Robert Bryant whiffed the next Bulldog batter. Following a scoreless second, Buss walked the Eagle’s leadoff batter McKaine Foster. Foster mistakenly tested the arm of Jay’s catcher and Meeker cut him down in stride. Meeker’s arm might have prevented a run, as Buss yielded a base hit and a hit batsman before escaping the frame. In the top of the fourth Claremore’s Derek Hanson led off with a single and eventually moved to third on back to back fielder’s choices. With two down and runners at the corners, Bryant broke for second at the start of Buss’s windup. The Bulldog pitcher turned and fired to second base and apparently threw the runner out. But the pitch was declared a balk, allowing Hanson to trot home with the game’s first score. Buss was able to get himself out of the inning with no more harm done. In the bottom of the inning Jay was able to parlay a pair of Eagle errors and a Ty Moore single to score Meeker and knot things up at one.
Following a scoreless third came the all-important and controversial top of the fourth. After fanning the leadoff batter, Buss allowed back to back singles to Seifried and Terry Quinton. A wild pitch advanced both of the runners that drew a throw to second. The runner was initially ruled safe, but subsequently stepped off the bag and was tagged, prompting the umpire to call Quinton out. A timeout ensued and following a long discussion between the two umpires, Quinton was miraculously ruled safe, to the understandable protestations of the Bulldog bench and supporters. The matter was further exacerbated when cleanup batter Hanson jacked a double that scored both the tying and dubious lead run. Unshaken, Buss got out of the frame with a come backer and a strikeout.
In the bottom of the sixth Jay looked to be on the verge of a comeback when Meeker and Ty Kay stroked back to back singles. Both runners advanced on Moore’s sacrifice bunt. But Bryant kept the next pair of Bulldog batsman completely off balance to strand the potential tying and winning runs in scoring position. After walking the leadoff man to start the seventh Buss mowed down the next three batters with a strikeout and a pair of routine popups. With two down in their last at bat, the Bulldogs rallied again. Stiefel worked Bryant for a walk and crossed the plate when Shambaugh tattooed his second RBI triple of the day. It looked as if Jay was going to tie things up when Meeker ripped a hot to right. But the wind laid down just long enough for the Sequoyah outfielder to track the ball down for the game’s final out for a 3-2 win by the Eagles.