GROVE - Miami found itself in the driver's seat of the Class 4A baseball regional here.
Thanks to a 5-0 win over Oologah and a 10-9 decision over arch-rival Grove, the Wardogs needed just one win Saturday to nail down their first trip to the state tournament since 2002.
“To beat two quality teams like that, I was very pleased,” Miami coach Chris Mercer said.
Oologah and Grove squared off in an elimination game at 3 p.m. with the winner facing MHS.
The “if necessary” game would be Sunday at a time to be determined.
“We're not even thinking about the ‘if' game,” Mercer said. “We're going to play for a win today.”
Miami scratched out what proved to be the winning run against Grove in the fifth inning.
James Pickens was hit by a pitch to start the inning, then Michael Anderson singled. A sacrifice by Grant Longcrier moved them into scoring position, then Brett Abell got the RBI with a sacrifice fly to left.
“We were up 9-2 but made some defensive mistakes behind Nick (starting pitcher Nick Henson,” Mercer said. “As soon as we started making those mistakes, we give up a three-run home run (to Corey Davenport). That always seems to follow against a good team.”
Davenport's homer keyed a four-run rally in the top of the fifth that saw Grove tie the game at 9-9.
Longcrier came on in relief in the sixth and shut the door.
DH Hale led off with a single but was picked off. Longcrier then retired the next five batters he faced to end the game.
“He did a good job,” Mercer said.
The Wardogs erupted for five runs in the bottom of the first inning, the big hit a bases-loaded double by Henson.
Miami added two runs each in the second and third, only to have Grove score three times each in the fourth and fifth to make things interesting.
Henson had a double and two singles to lead the Miami offense.
Longcrier had a double and single while Anderson added two singles. Joe Pilkinton had a single and Abell chipped in with a single.
In the opener, Abell had a lucky 13 strikeouts while limiting the Mustangs to four hits.
“Brett threw outstanding in Game 1,” Mercer said. “They only had four hits and he kept his pitch count down. We ever really felt threatened.”
Abell threw only 87 pitches while facing 25 batters. He retired 12 of the last 14 he faced, with double plays getting him out of trouble in the sixth and seventh.
The Wardogs spotted Abell to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a RBI double from Keith Freeman and a run-scoring single by Henson.
Then in the fourth, Abell helped himself with a two-run single.
Miami's final run came in the seventh on singles by Freeman, Pilkinton and Jesse Henson.
Freeman finished with a double and two singles while Nick Henson, Jesse Henson and Longcrier all had two singles each.
Anderson, Nick Jones, Abell and Pilkinton had a single each.