WYANDOTTE - Wyandotte took on Class 4A Vinita in preparation for its Class 3A regional baseball tournament and the Bears rocked the Hornets 11-4 to head into the four-team regional field with a head of steam.
“We are so pleased with out effort today,” Wyandotte head coach Troy Gray said. “We appreciate Vinita playing us heading into the regional. We were able to throw four pitchers, which not only allowed us to get work on the mound but also enabled us to stay sharp at the plate as well.”
The Bears broke out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning after a Jerry Pettus RBI double scored Brandon Poindexter.
Wyandotte ran its lead to 3-0 with a pair of runs in the second. Kurtis Young walked in front of a single by Frankie Lewis. Young then scored on a Tyler Kauffman RBI single for a 2-0 advantage before Zack Stovall was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Lewis scored on a bases loaded walk one batter later to Tyler Burleson for the three-run edge.
After the Hornets scored a pair if runs in the top half of the fourth, WHS countered with Jared White's fourth home run of the season. White's dinger to leftfield was a solo shot to give the Bears a 4-2 lead.
Vinita scored a lone run in the top half of the fifth before the Bears exploded for seven runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Three consecutive walks started the rally before a Kauffman ground ball out produced a RBI and a 5-2 lead. A Burleson fielder's choice ground ball pushed another Bear run across the dish before a RBI single by White ran the Bear lead to 7-2.
Burleson later scored on a passed ball in front a RBI single by Jerry Pettus. The Bears gained an 11-3 lead after another Vinita passed ball.
The Hornets managed a single run in the sixth, but it was too little too late to catch the Bears.
The win by the Bears raises their record to 19-10 and despite a tough regional draw with top-ranked Sperry, Gray likes his team's chances.
“This is a very tough regional,” Gray said. “But it is one we feel we can be very competitive. I told our kids half of the 3A teams are sitting at home and everyone wishes they could still be playing. We have played a very tough schedule to prepare for this week. Hopefully it was tough enough.”
The Bears head into the regional fray at Sperry with Caney Valley, Adair and the host Pirates.
Wyandotte tangles with the Pirates at 1:30 p.m. Thursday followed by the Adair/Caney Valley matchup at 3:30.
The winners will play at 5:30 p.m. and the pair of first round losers will take on each other at 7:30 p.m. in an elimination tilt.
Senior White leads the Bears into regional play with a team-best .577 batting average, 29 RBIs, and 45 hits. Junior catcher Jerry Pettus boasts a .347 average and has 25 RBIs, while senior lead-off hitter Burleson takes a .326 batting average and a .437 on base percentage to Sperry.
Junior first baseman Kauffman is third on the team in RBIs with 18 and is coming off a 5-for-7 effort against Kansas in the district championship.
White also leads the pitching staff with a team tops 11-2 record with a ERA of 0.51 and 154 strikeouts. The NEO signee is the current Oklahoma high school state career strikeout leader and is expected to add to his 612 career fannings this week at Sperry.
Burleson and Poindexter give the Bears a solid three-man rotation with Burleson maintaining a ERA of 1.68 and Poindexter holding the opponants in check with a 1.99 earned run average for the season.
Gray knows that his team has worked hard and seems to be playing their baseball of the season at the right time.
“Our kids are really excited this week and we expect to perform well,” he said. “This group as a whole has been in some big regional games and has a pretty good feel for what it is all about.
“We have worked hard and seem to be peaking at the right time,” Gray added. “I guess we will see if those things are enough. The key is to stay within ourselves and our capabilities. We have had good practices and are pretty dialed in right now.”