Deer Creek and Edmond Santa Fe faced off in a home-and-home series that saw the Antlers end Santa Fe’s seven-game win streak on Monday before the Wolves got payback in a 7-5 victory at home on Tuesday.
The Wolves came into the week-opening series as one of the hottest teams across their district, winning seven consecutive games and earning a Central Oklahoma Athletic Conference championship tourney bid before rain cancelled Saturday’s final. Those same Wolves hit a brick wall on Monday, though, one by the name of Hunter Freese.
The inaugural pitcher for the series’ inaugural contest, Freese dominated on Monday. The senior Kansas baseball commit went through six innings of work, striking out eight Santa Fe batters on 109 pitches, 60 percent of which were strikes.
If Freese was the wall keeping the Wolves away from their eighth consecutive win, Wade Elliott was the razor wire lining the top of it. Securing the win, Elliott entered in the top of the 7th to strike three of Santa Fe’s hottest hitters in 1-2-3 order to end Monday’s contest.
The duo’s dominance suffocated what has been a scorching Santa Fe, allowing only a single Wolf runner to cross home — and it wasn’t even on their own accord.
That run, a Braden Reichert cross from a Ryan Walden RBI single, didn’t even count as an earned run, either. Reichert reached from the box to second on an error to lead off the inning, before the next two Wolves runners were retired. dWalden did well to punish the Antler slip up, plating the run on his team-best 3-for-4 day to get a run back.
The punishment wasn’t enough, though, with the Deer Creek offense turning their defense’s inch into a mile of scoreboard separation. Freese, Elliott, Ethan Boyer, Jordan Coffey and Bryce Logan all batted in a run, with Boyer a team-best 2-for-3 from the dish, and the Antlers turned five hits into five RBIs in the 7-1 win.
Santa Fe seemed to take exception to the Antlers attempt at ending their streak, with the Wolves bouncing back on Tuesday to even the week’s series after they held off a late Creek run with some of their own potent offense.
That offensive unit was headlined once again by Ryan Walden, who was the only multi-hit Wolf on a day that saw six Santa Fe reaches. Walden’s biggest swing, a two-RBI single that capped off a four-run bottom of the 2nd and extended Santa Fe to a 5-nothing lead, plated Dom Johnson and Braden Reichert.
Four other Wolves hit on the day, though, and Ryan Knutson, Trace Ford and Reichert all batted in a runner each. The outburst helped create a 7-1 advantage after three innings — an advantage that was crucial in holding a late Deer Creek rally.
The runs were self-inflicted by the Wolves, though, with Creek’s Kaden Marshall plating a run and reaching on an error with two outs in the 5th, before Marshall himself scored on another error in the Wolves outfield. Two innings later, on Creek’s final round of at-bats, the Antlers cashed in two more runs on three Santa Fe errors, but the Wolves’ earlier offensive successes were enough to keep out the surging Creek 7-5.
The week’s split means that the two teams stay in a holding pattern standing-wise, with their district’s seasons coming to a close — something that impacted Santa Fe more. Regardless of the outcome of the games, Creek was staying in second with what is now a 9-5 district record.
For the Wolves, a sweep would have meant vaulting all the way to third in their district, but instead the extra loss on Monday has them sitting fifth with a 7-6 district record, tied in the win column but with a single loss more than Choctaw and Norman who sit tied at third.