By Chuck Reherman
EDMOND – One victory.
That’s all Yukon needs to make it return to the class 6A State Baseball Championships.
The Millers will go after that win today after having to wait a day in the Region 4 finals at Edmond Deer Creek.
YHS, 22-13, face the winner of Deer Creek and Moore in the now scheduled 6:30 p.m. championship game. Deer Creek and Moore play an elimination game at 4 p.m.
A win sends the Millers to the state tournament. A loss, will have YHS play a second game to determine who gets the state berth. That game time has not yet been determined.
The Millers used two strong pitching performances from Josh Sanders and Carson Benge to reach the championship game. Benge tossed a two-hitter in the Millers’ 1-0 win over Moore in the opening round and Sanders came back with a three-hit, 12 strike-out performance in shutting down the host Deer Creek in a 4-0 win.
The final round of the tournament was delayed by rain and the games have been moved to late today to allow the host team to get the field ready.
Moore came back to beat Midwest City in the final game of the first day of the tournament to reach the elimination game and play for a spot in the regional finals. Deer Creek had beat Midwest City 5-0 to reach the winners bracket final.
In the winners bracket final, Sanders was in control of the game. He did give up base hits in the first and second innings, then retired 10 in a row in the middle innings before issuing a walk in the sixth inning., He allowed the third hit of the game in the inning, but retired the next two batters to get out of the jam and set the Antlers down in order in the seventh.
“We pitched, made some plays defensively and showed some toughness,” Miller head coach Kevin James said. “It was a good win, we battled our butts off, that guy (Deer Creek pitcher Max Huffling) is pretty good.
“You are going to get everyone’s best and you have to show your best,” James said. “Carson threw a heck of a game in that first one and the Moore pitcher was money. We were able to get a run without a hit. But, you have to do whatever you have to do to get a win. I’m and old (Oakland) Raiders fan from way back and just win baby is a big slogan. Those were two big wins against two good teams.”
The Millers, who scored a run in the first inning in the win over Moore, went 10 more innings over the course of the two games before putting a run on the scoreboard. And, it was a four-run sixth inning that sealed the win.
“We had guys on base, we just couldn’t get anything going,” James said. “Nollan (Koon) came up and doubled up, we were going to bunt. After he (Huffling) hit Matt (Wilson) I didn’t think he was going to swing at the first pitch.
“Josh threw really, really well, maybe the best I have seen him throw,” James said. “He has a chance to be a really special player. We have a bunch of those guys, if we will play like that, we can match up with anybody. There is no question in my mind, we have been talking about that since day one. I was just proud of how they went about their business. Playing back to back games like that is pretty tough some times and stayed hooked for 14 innings.”
The Millers had chances in the third and fourth innings, getting a runner to third base in the third, only to see a doubleplay end the inning.
Yukon’s game winning rally started with the help of a Deer Creek mistake and was capped by RBI hits from Drew Janvrin and Mason McIntyre.
Wilson reached on an error and back to back hits from Koon and Jett Lodes loaded the bases. Braylen Wimmer’s ground out produced the first run. Janvrin singled in the second run, the third (Lodes) scored on a passed ball) and McIntyre capped the rally with an RBI single.
Sanders came out in the top of the seventh and set Deer Creek down in order to seal the win.
In the opening game against Moore, the Millers scored the games only run on a passed ball and pulled off a 1-0 victory over Moore.
Jacob Russell, courtesy running for Koon, scored on the passed ball. Koon had opened the game with a walk.
“We would have liked to have scored more runs, but all you have to do it score one more than they do,” James said. “We knew we would get a good pitching performance out of Carson and had been playing good defense.
“The whole deal is you have to get them out 21 times and score more than they do,” he said. “We got it accomplished and we will take it.
“We are playing our best ball of the season, no question. It was the full package. We ran the bases well today, got some bunts down and was proud of their effort and how they went about it.”
By Chuck Reherman