KEEPING COMPOSURE: Tigers overcome poor first inning to win opening day of State Tournament

May 9—EDMOND — After allowing a pair of runs in the first inning, Tahlequah Tigers starting pitcher, and reining 5A-4 Pitcher of the Year, Brayden Northington settled in to throw a gem for a 5-2 win over the Noble Bears.

"Here is the part you never get tired of as a coach, when your kids have the composure to stay in the game and keep fighting even though we are down," THS head coach Cody Pair said.

After a double play, Northington got into a little trouble early after giving up a walk and a hit-by-pitch in the top of the first inning. A batter later, NHS was up 2-0 thanks to a triple. That was the lone hit Northington allowed, as he locked in to pick up the win for the Tigers.

"The reason that Brayden is out there is because we expect him to be composed," Pair said. "If he wasn't composed I would be disappointed, it is kind of bad but that is what I expect. If we make a mistake behind him he is going to be nails like he has all season long, that's his job and he knows it."

Along with Northington, the Tigers' defense was key in keeping the Bears' offense at bay. Despite having four errors throughout the game, the Tigers' defense stepped up for big plays when it mattered behind Northington. The Tigers infield turned a double play and stopped a runner on third base during an NHS rally, along with some solid plays from the outfield.

"We played great defense behind him and we got to the game plan. This is a team win we don't single guys out, I hate that," Pair said.

Early in the game, it was a pitcher's duel. THS didn't have a hit through the first eight batters until Tate Trammel broke through with a single up the middle. A walk to Cutter Girdner and a hit-by-pitch to Chance Pair quickly loaded the bases for THS. The Bears nearly got out of the situation with a double play ball, but Beckett Robinson used his speed to beat out the throw allowing the first run to score.

THS opened the fourth inning with a walk to Synjin Sampson and a single from Jacob Morrison. Sampson was able to advance to third on a throw from the catcher. With runners on the corners, the Bears weren't able to gun down Morrison allowing Sampson to score tying the game 2-2. One batter later, the Tigers took the lead with a hit-by-pitch.

"That right-hander was tough but we fought him the whole game. We got him to the pitch count and knocked him out and did a good job offensively," Pair said.

The Bears looked ready for a rally in the top of the fifth inning. With runners on second and third base, Cutter Girdner caught the runner on third with a head's up play to put a lid on NHS' rally.

After loading the bases for no runs in the fifth inning, the Tigers added to their lead in the sixth inning. A pair of singles and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases again for the Tigers. Back-to-back sacrifice flies secured the 5-2 win for the Tigers.

THS will be back in action at 1:30 p.m. at Edmond Santa Fe High School.

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