Hornets' Super Regional goes to rubber game

May 2—Set up pretty with a chance to seal a state tournament berth with a sweep of Sallisaw in Wednesday's Class 4A Super Regional at home, Hilldale turned painfully benevolent in game two.

And Hornets pitcher Cole Leach suffered the consequences.

Leach was the unlucky victim of six unearned runs while yielding just one hit in a batter over two innings of mound duty, and the 14-8 outcome forces a rubber game Thursday at the Hornets' diamond, weather permitting.

Hilldale (25-9) looked in command after a dominant 13-2 performance in the opener.

But a hard luck four-run second inning for Leach on the mound in the second game put the Hornets in a 5-0 hole. Three runs, including one on defensive interference in the infield, a passed ball with the bases loaded and a bases-loaded walk all came with two outs before Leach got Kase Adams on a 2-2 pitch to get out of it.

With Leach up and the bases loaded on two hit batsmen and a walk and two outs in the bottom half of the frame, pinch-runner Kyler Richerson was caught in a run-down off a wild pitch that Black Diamonds catcher Cole Mayfield was able to come up with a clean off the backstop bounce.

Leach exited with a leadoff walk in the third. That left it to Asa Spradley who came in for Leach. Spradley's throwing error off a bunt allowed Leach's final charged run to come home. A sac fly and balk plated runs before Creed Nelson's solo home run made it 9-0.

It was the second hit of the game by either team at that point.

Hilldale wound up with eight errors.

"The kids got caught up in the moment and things got out of hand for us, and if you could have kept that to one or two runs, we might have had a chance," said Hilldale coach Nathan Frisby. "We just gave up too much early."

If anything, Leach, denied the chance to do something with the bases loaded in the previous inning, hit his 11th home run on a solo shot to left to lead off the third. He had both of Hilldale's hits, including a run-scoring triple in the sixth.

"Kyler's been in those situations all year and I mean, he read the ball right to the backstop but the ball couldn't have taken a more favorable bounce for their catcher and he's an athletic kid," Frisby said. "There's no guarantee Cole homers in that situation. It's just how the whole first few innings went for us."

Sallisaw pitcher Brock Streun walked two with one out in the fifth and went 3-0 before being charged with a third as relief pitcher Brodie Cameron came in. Walks to Pearson Bennett and Brayson Walker, a fielder's choice groundout by Chad Parks and a grounder by Case Leach which pulled the Black Diamond first baseman off the bag on the throw made it a 10-6 game.

Things again got messy. Mayfield's two-run double off reliever Bucky Kelley was part of a four-run Black Diamond sixth. Leach's triple was part of a two-run bottom half of the frame.

A five-run third created separation in game one. Bennett's sac fly plated Parker Ireland, who led off with a double to left, to break a 2-2 tie and Hilldale never looked back.

Case Leach singled to right to score Jace Hannon and Chandler Wood doubled in Leach in a two-run sixth that ended the game on the run-rule.

Hilldale had 13 hits in the opener. Wood was 3-for-4 and drove in a pair of runs. Cole Leach was 2-for-3 and drove in two. Parks and Gavyn Heppel were each 2-for-4 with an RBI. Bennett was 1-for-3 and drove in three runs with a single in the first to go with two sac flies.

Parks allowed five hits and struck out 10 going the full six innings for the Hornets. His only smudge was a two-run home run by Cole Stephens that tied the game at 2 in the second.

Sallisaw is 23-9.

"Chad threw well and we hit well," Frisby said. "We've got to pitch a little better tomorrow and make a few more routine plays."