By Evan Grice
With the lights on bright Tuesday night at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, the Piedmont Wildcats came up with a clutch performance against Durant in more ways than one.
Tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, a sacrifice bunt attempt from Lane Tooman was thrown into center by the Lions pitcher Brandon Maynard, which eventually led to Max Jirak scoring the game-winning run for the Wildcats, giving them their fourth straight victory by a score of 2-1.
Piedmont was also helped by a complete game effort from Dalton Egan, who threw all eight innings of baseball, allowing just one run on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
“My arm has been feeling amazing to me,” Egan said. “Right when I stepped on the mound I felt like a million bucks. I was a little rattled when Durant tied the game, and they were on top of the ball. This is probably the best I’ve seen this defense in the past few weeks. They are picking it up and they really helped me calm down more than usual tonight.”
“Dalton threw strikes and our defense was ready tonight,” Piedmont coach Kory Williams said. “He only walked two guys in eight innings. We’ve had one error in the last three games, so I think our defense is in rhythm right now. I think we could easily be 5-1 right now. This is a big week for us, and we’ve started off 3-0. Hopefully we get some momentum heading into districts on Monday against McGuinness.”
Before the Wildcats could celebrate a walk-off victory, they had to survive an argument from Durant coach Ron Norman who claimed Jirak didn’t touch third base on his way to home plate.
However, the umpires call stood and Piedmont was able to breathe a sigh of relief after having won its third game in less than 24 hours after winning two games Monday night at the Chandler Tournament over Prague and Jones.
“I thought he (Maynard) was going to pick me off to be honest,” Jirak said about the moments before he scored. “When I slid in and saw it go into center field, I realized then that I was probably going to be able to score. Their team is very good defensively, so I couldn’t tell how far it had gone into center field. When you come as a kid and watch the Redhawks play here, it’s a great feeling getting to be under the lights on the same field as guys who get paid to play this game.”
Piedmont (4-2) initially took the lead over the Lions in the bottom of the third inning, when Jirak hit an RBI single up the middle which scored Greyson Gallagher.
Durant (4-3) later tied the game on an RBI groundout in the top of the sixth inning.
PHS will be back in action at the Mark Howard Memorial Tournament from Mark Howard Park in Chandler Thursday morning at 11 a.m. against McLoud.