By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The top-seeded Owasso Rams (23-5, 10-1) traveled to Sand Springs (20-13, 6-6) Monday night for what will likely be one of the most memorable games of the season. The seven inning game lasted for three and a half hours as the two teams each reached double digits in hitting and went through a total of five pitchers. Three Sandites hit home runs, including two in the final stretch that nearly propelled the Sandites past their opponent. Sand Springs never once led, but it was easily one of the most hotly contested games of the year.
Owasso's Lance Christenberry got the start and the win on the mound, giving up two earned runs and four hits over two innings. Shane Lang got the win, pitching over four innings and allowing three earned runs and six hits against four strikeouts. University of Oklahoma-commit Jake Terry (5-4) got the start and loss for the Sandites and allowed six walks, seven hits, and seven earned runs against six strikeouts over four innings. Rhett Rutledge (1-1) pitched relief and gave up three walks, three hits, and three earned runs over three innings.
Owasso started off the scoring early as Athanie Leeviraphan doubled and came in on a hit by Parker Dunn in the top of the first. The home team retaliated quickly, however, as Joey Montgomery walked and reached home on an error.
The Rams had an explosive second inning with four base hits and a walk for a 5-1 lead. Nick Keim singled, Jake Enzbrenner walked, and Caleb Denny brought in Keim on a single. Connor Beichler hit a two run double to score Denny and Jordan Lytle, and Tyler Brown singled in Beichler.
Terry was first to the plate in the bottom of the second and hit his second home run of the season. Josh Taber singled in Rutledge to narrow it to 5-3 and despite a pair of walks in the top of the third, the Sandites managed to hold Owasso to their first runless inning.
Brayden Lloyd replaced Christenberry on the mound in the bottom of the third and gave up a single to Montgomery and walked Hunter Greathouse. Tyler McCallie ran courtesy for Montgomery and advanced to third on a fielder's choice before scoring on an error to cut the gap to 5-4.
The Rams more than made up for their prior gaffs in the top of the fourth, however, as Leeviraphan and Beichler drew walks. Dunn scored Leeviraphan on a double into the top of the right field fence and Lang reached on a dropped third strike that allowed Beichler to score. Enzbrenner hit a sacrifice to score Dunn for the 8-4 advantage before Dodger Turner foul tipped out to bring in the Sandites.
The fourth continued to be the wildest inning of the game as Mack Thompson, Taber, and Jake Ward singled to load the bases. The Umpire took a pitch to the head with Ward at bat and went down for a solid five minutes before getting back on his feet and valiantly continuing the game. Taber started for third on Ward's hit and doubled back and was nearly picked off but was saved by an error that allowed Thompson to come home. Montgomery struck out, but Treyce Tolbert tripled to score Taber and Ward and cut the score down to 8-7.
Rutledge went to the mound in the top of the fifth. Leeviraphan and Sam Thompson grounded out to start but Brown and Beichler both drew walks and came in on a three run homer by Dunn to make it 11-7.
The bottom of the fifth was a no hitter and while the Rams came close to scoring in the sixth, Enzbrenner was put out at home to bring the Sandites in. Rutledge drew a walk and Ward was hit by pitch, but neither scored in the first runless inning of the game.
The Sandites set themselves up well for a rally as they stranded two Owasso base-runners in the top of the seventh and didn't allow any more runs. Greathouse reached on an error to start the offense off, but was put out at second on a fielder's choice. Mack Thompson hit his first home run of the year to score McCallie, and Rutledge followed it up his second homer of the year to cut the gap to a single run. Unfortunately Taber went down swinging and the Rams walked away with the win.
The Sandites will get a rematch Tuesday at 4:30 in Owasso, assuming the weather stays away till then. The season is rapidly coming to a close with only three games left till Regionals. The boys have a district makeup game Thursday against Bartlesville (10-19) and the season finale will by Friday against Tulsa Memorial (9-16).
The photo gallery from this event can be found at https://sanditepride.smugmug.com/2016-Baseball/42516-Sand-Springs-vs-Owasso/