The Piedmont baseball team had a crucial district victory over El Reno in its hands Wednesday night.
Then it didn’t.
Trailing 1-0, El Reno scored a pair of unearned runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 2-1 lead and held on to win by the same margin in a swiftly played 1:32 game. The Indians improved to 16-15 with win while Piedmont fell to 14-13. The result kept the district standings and playoff positioning jumbled.
“We got the ground balls we needed, we’ve just got to make plays right there,” Piedmont head coach Kory Williams said of the seventh-inning meltdown. “It just wasn’t our day.”
Starting pitcher J.J. Rogers, who earlier in the day signed with Seminole State College, took the hard-luck loss for Piedmont throwing a complete game while allowing just four hits and surrendering no earned runs.
“J.J. pitched a whale of a game,” Williams said. “We’ve just got to make plays behind him.”
Noah Ellis delivered, what, for six innings appeared to be the game-winning RBI double to plate Tyler Rother with two outs in the fourth.
But El Reno rallied with the help of two PHS miscues. With the leadoff batter on in the seventh, the Indians’ next batter hit what appeared to be a tailor-made double play ball, but the ball skipped over the glove of Piedmont’s second baseman into right field, putting runners on first and second.
After a sacrifice bunt advanced each 90 feet, Rogers recorded his seventh strikeout for the second out. But an RBI-single and another error on the infield brought in the tying and go-ahead runs with two outs.
Brayden Nelson walked with one out in the seventh for Piedmont, but his pinch-runner was picked off for the second out and a pitch later the game ended on a called third strike.
Williams said the loss won’t affect his team moving forward.
“It’s baseball. You’ve got to have a short memory,” he said. “These kids are resilient and I think they’ll bounce back.”