YUKON — Shawnee pitcher Eli Davis sprinted off the mound to field a slowly hit ball near the third base line, spun and calmly threw to first base to strand the bases loaded.
The left-handed pitcher fielded his position perfectly all day, pitched seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts and went 3 for 5 with an RBI to lead Shawnee to a 9-0 win over Piedmont in the Class 5A state championship game at Yukon’s Miller Field.
Shawnee (30-9) scored seven times after Davis kept Piedmont scoreless in the fifth. Then, he capped the Wolves’ five-run seventh inning that followed his slick fielding an inning later with a single to left field. Shawnee also scored twice in the sixth.
“I’ve seen that kid play for a few years now and he has that it factor,” Piedmont head coach Kory Williams said of Davis. “It was a big time environment and he stepped up and had a big game.”
Davis’ play on Koy Priddy’s chopper in the fifth gave Shawnee momentum it used down the stretch to win its second consecutive state title. Piedmont put just one batter on base against the University of Kansas commit in the final two innings.
“I was hoping he’d sail that throw down the line and we could go up 3-1 and see what would happen from there,” Williams said. “Most high school players don’t make that play.”
Davis did, though, and helped the Wolves avenge two regular season losses to Piedmont, which were on the minds of the Wolves entering Saturday.
“Our kids were excited they were going to get to play Piedmont,” Shawnee head coach Todd Boyer said. “I have a lot of respect for Kory, he runs a class program, but our kids were excited that was our opponent today.”
Things went wrong early for Piedmont. Catcher Bryce McDermott was ejected for throwing an elbow while Shawnee first baseman Cole Payne tagged him out near first base to end the first inning.
“It absolutely hurt us,” Williams said. “The umpire made a bad call. He needs to know the situation. It’s a state championship game.”
In the top of the second, Shawnee scored first when Piedmont right fielder Caleb Kreklau lost a routine fly ball in sun hit by Payne that dropped, allowing Logan Franklin to score from second.
Pitching on short rest after throwing a complete game in Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Skiatook, senior Brayden Nelson battled Davis pitch for pitch into the sixth. Nelson pitched six innings while allowing three earned runs with three strikeouts.
“You can’t say enough about Brayden Nelson and what he gave us today and all season,” Williams said. “He gave us a chance to win today and that’s all we could ask for.”
Piedmont finished the season as a state runner-up at 28-13 despite losing two of its top four pitchers during the year.
“These guys have raised the level of expectations for the program and that’s something they should be proud of,” said Williams.