The Deer Creek Antlers rattled opponents in their own Class 5A regional culminating Wednesday at Deer Creek High School. The Antlers (24-13) blasted Duncan 14-4 in the regional title game Wednesday afternoon to advance to Thursday’s 5A state tournament with the opener slated at Norman North High School.
“Over the last couple of weeks pitching-wise and hitting-wise I think our guys looked a little more relaxed,” Deer Creek head coach Ron Moore said after leading the Antlers to the state tourney for the 11th time in the past 14 years. “I don’t think there are any surprises this year and that’s a good thing. They’re (the Antlers) ready to play some postseason baseball.”
In the regional, Deer Creek outscored its opponents 43-9 with a first-round conquest of Del City (16-3) and then defeated Duncan in the semifinals (13-2).
Antler Caleb Eldridge smacked a pair of home runs and drove home three runs while finishing a perfect 3-for-3. Eldridge leads Deer Creek with a .430 batting average with 10 home runs and 41 runs batted in on the season. He has also accumulated 15 doubles on the year.
Patton Collie improved to 6-3 on the season with the pitching win, striking out six. He now possesses 64 strikeouts in just 49 innings this season with a 2.57 earned run average.
Teammate Ricky Ramirez is 5-2 with 53 strikeouts and a 0.93 ERA while fellow Deer Creek hurlers Lane Workman and Cruz Clark are owners of 2-0 records.
In the semifinal triumph over Duncan Tuesday, the Antlers erupted for a dozen runs in the fourth frame for the 13-2 trouncing. Brock Ruminer, Clark and Chad Dunlop all produced 2-run singles in the inning.
Ramirez was the winning pitcher.
Workman was the winner in the opener against Del City as Jackson Girod and Ruminer each hit home runs.
Following Eldridge in batting average are Alex Forget (.394, 4 3Bs, 15 2Bs), Brock Ruminer (.375), Dylan Rycroft (.373, 34 RBIs, 11 2Bs), Jordan Boyer (.365, 36 RBIs, 13 2Bs, 3 3Bs), Aiden Doherty (.363, 18 2Bs) and R.J. Royal (.333).
Edmond North went on the road and downed Moore 7-2 in game 1 but lost to host Edmond Santa Fe 8-6 Tuesday to fall into the losers bracket. The Wolves dropped Lawton Eisenhower in their first game of the postseason.
Fighting back to get to the regional championship Wednesday with an if-necessary game pending should the Huskies defeat the Wolves, North put the wraps on a 4-2 triumph to advance to Thursday’s if-necessary game with Santa Fe. Carson McColl was the winning pitcher as Santa Fe managed just a pair of hits in the setback.
Sophomore Cade Simons led North with a 2-for-3 showing in the batter’s box while shortstop Quin Walbergh batted 1-for-2 for the Wolfpack.
Thursday’s absolute regional final was a nailbiter and it took an unearned run for the Huskies (23-14) to make the state tournament for the third time in five years under head coach Karl King with a 1-0 victory over Santa Fe.
“Both teams played really good defense,” King stated. “(Santa Fe’s Tanner) Kliewer pitched very well.
“There had to be a certain committment (for the North players to come back and qualify for state) there. We beat Moore and put together a really good game to advance to state.”
Edmond North scratched for the contest’s lone run in the fourth inning when he reached on a 2-out single. He advanced to second on an error and trucked on home on Luke Reynolds’ single with two strikes to left.
“I think over the last couple of weeks, the kids started playing a lot better,” King said of his troops. “I think the kids got behind each other and were on a mission to get back to the state tournament.”
Santa Fe kicked the ball just the one time when North took advantage to score in the fourth. North had two errors.
In the seventh, Wolf K.J. Orr doubled off the base of the wall in left field to start off the frame. He moved over to third on a fly ball to center off of winning pitcher Karsten LaFerr, who went 6 1/3 innings giving up no runs on five hits.
Reynolds then came in to pitch in relief and got a strikeout. Then Santa Fe leadoff batter Garrett Greenwood went to a full count before grounding out to Husky shortstop Josh Garbrecht to end the game, thus stranding the tying run at third base. Garbrecht also gunned down a Wolf at the plate in the third inning to prevent a Santa Fe run.
North first baseman Andrew Veit was the leading hitter in the regional for the Huskies, who play Stillwater at the University of Oklahoma Thursday in the first round of the state tournament.
Edmond North won the state championship in 2012.
In a regional at Norman North, Edmond Memorial dropped Choctaw in Tuesday’s opener 5-3 but in the semis fell 10-3 to the host Timberwolves.
Still alive coming back through the losers bracket, the Bulldogs fell victim to a Choctaw winning streak as the Yellowjackets made it to Friday’s finals with Norman North. The title game was pushed back to Friday due to inclement weather and field conditions.