By Chuck Reherman
EDMOND – Yukon went into the Regional 4 championship game looking to earn a berth to the state tournament.
The Millers will have to try again on Monday.
Deer Creek, playing for their season lives, rattled off eight runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, keyed by Kaden Marshall’s grand slam home run to hand the Millers a 10-0 loss in five innings to force a second and deciding game in the double elimination tournament.
Both teams now have one loss (Yukon beat the Antlers 4-0 in the winners bracket finals) and will meet in the 5 p.m. championship game Monday at Deer Creek.
The match-up will more than likely pit the Millers’ No. 1 pitcher, Josh Sanders, against Deer Creek’s top pitcher in Max Huffling. Sanders limited the Antlers to three hits in the winners bracket game on Thursday.
“We will see their best one on Monday and we will have Josh ready,” Miller head coach Kevin James said. “We will have to be ready. They are going to bring their best and we will have to bring our best as well.
“This is for all the marbles,” he added. “We have to come back ready to go, put this game out of our minds and it a one game for everything on Monday.”
The Millers were held to only two hits in the game by Deer Creek’s Piercen McElyea, but had a chance to tie or take the lead in the fifth inning, loading the bases with one out. Carson Benge had singled, Mason McIntyre reached on an error and Brayden McPherson walked. But, McElyea struck out the next batter, then got the third out on a ground end to strand three Miller runners on base.
The wheels all came off in the bottom of the fifth inning.
RBI singles from Bryce Logan and Jack Hill and a Miller error led to three runs and opened a 5-0 Antler lead. With the bases loaded, the big blow for the Millers came off Marshall’s bat. He drilled a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall to make it a 9-0 game.
Deer Creek, after Ty Hammack tripled, used a walk-off sacrifice fly from Brenden Fitzhugh ended the game.
“The turning point was the fifth inning, but the third inning we gave them two runs when we shouldn’t have,” James said. “And, you can’t give teams eight run innings also. That kid (Marshall) hit it a long ways and that happens when you leave a pitch out over the plate to a batter like that.
“Deer Creek is pretty aggressive at the plate,” James said. “If we don’t get those corner pitches and the pitches that are down, it is going to make it pretty tough when you don’t throw very hard. They just hit it.”
The Antlers had broken on top in the bottom of the third inning on an RBI single from Jordan Coffey and a run-scoring double from McElyea.
By Chuck Reherman