Oran nips Oak Ridge in nine innings to win district baseball title

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ORAN, Mo. -- Oran first baseman Bear Hicks sometimes gets so nervous before baseball games that he gets sick.

Yet somehow, as he walked to the plate with the winning run on second base in the bottom of the ninth inning during Tuesday's Class 1 District 2 tournament championship contest, he was calm.

"Well that time it was different," Hicks said. "I wasn't nervous or nothing."

The junior took an outside fastball from Oak Ridge reliever Kelby Brown and hit it to the left-field fence, allowing Jacob Priggel to score to give the host Eagles a 6-5 victory.

"After doing so bad at the plate my first two times through I was like, 'Well, I need to get a hit today,' said Hicks, who was 1 for 3 with a walk before his final at-bat. "One of the coaches told me to sit back and wait for the ball and then swing, so I did as he [said]."

Top-seeded Oran (18-5), which has advanced to the final four the past two seasons, will go on the road to face the winner of today's Class 1 District 1 championship between Cooter and Delta C-7 in Monday's sectional round.

Tuesday's game was extended into extra innings thanks to a two-out solo home run by Oak Ridge's Ryan Below in the top of the seventh inning that tied the game 5-5.

"I was just trying to do anything to keep us alive," Below said. "To hit a home run, put one point up and keep us alive and go into nine innings is just short of a miracle sort of."

Below saw two curveballs from Oran reliever Seth Ressel before he hit a fastball over the left-field fence. It was one of only two hits Ressel allowed in 4 2/3 innings.

"I hit it, and I swear I just popped it up," said Below, who was 3 for 4 with two RBIs in the game. "I ran out and the outfielder was just looking at it, looking up there. I was like, 'OK, I guess I hit it over.'"

Just a half inning earlier it looked like Oran senior Kody Moore would be the game's hero when his two-out, two-run double gave the top-seeded Eagles a 5-4 lead.

"I'm pretty sure it went to 3-0, and coach didn't give me the take, so I was like, 'Oh, perfect. I know where this one's coming, and I am ready for it. I'm sitting on it,'" Moore said. "The biggest thing was I didn't try to do too much. I didn't try to end the game. I didn't try to hit a home run, a three-run shot. I just stayed on it, and it actually went opposite field. That was one of my better hits of the year because I hit the ball solid the opposite way."

Moore started on the mound for Oran. He had to pitch around baserunners in the first three innings, including a situation with runners on second and third and no outs in the third inning.

"In them spots, I really tell myself, I'm like, 'You have to buckle down. You cannot let your team down. You cannot be the one to cost us the district title,'" Moore said. "When it runs through my mind I'm like, 'All right. It ain't happening.'"

The trouble caught up with him in the fourth inning when the Blue Jays scored four runs with the help of a lead-off walk, three hits and three Oran errors.

"The worst inning Oran has ever played in a district championship -- that is the title of that inning," Moore said.

"I think if I remember right, I think I walked the first guy that inning. Walking a guy, that's an error. That's an error for the pitcher in my eyes. After that they just put the bat on the ball. They got a few hits, but then we made some bonehead mistakes and had some errors. That was the difference in us busting the game wide open and letting them come around and scaring us half to death."

The outburst gave third-seeded Oak Ridge (11-10) a 4-3 lead, which it held until Moore's double in the six. Oran's first three runs came in during a second inning in which Oak Ridge committed three errors.

"For me, I just respect everyone on my team," first-year Oak Ridge coach Bo Akers said. "We knew the odds were against us playing Oran at home. You know they're going to have all their fans here, and the big thing was we came out, we were down, we had been beat by Oran before and we came back and fought and fought and fought. I can't be more proud of them. We outplayed Oran for the majority of this game, and they're a good team. You've got to give the credit to them. They're a good team."

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WP -- Seth Ressel. LP -- Kelby Brown. HR -- Ryan Below (OR). 2B -- Kody Moore (O), Alex Heuring (O), Bear Hicks (O), Thomas Trankler (O), Jake LeGrand (OR), Lance Rohde (OR), Ryan Below (OR). Multiple hits -- Oran: Ressel 2-4, Moore 2-5, Jacob Priggel 2-5, Hicks 2-4; Oak Ridge: LeGrand 2-5, Rohde 2-4, Below 3-4. Records: Oran 18-5, Oak Ridge 11-10.

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