Adam Troxtell, Sports Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chickasha once again had to dig deep; and, once again, they pulled out a victory.
On a night where the top half of the order struggled, the middle and bottom-half hitters saw the Fightin' Chicks through for a big 4-2 win over Noble at home on Tuesday. It ensures Chickasha (22-9, 11-2) gets to host a regional tournament when playoffs begin next week.
Brayden Belden and Brandon Shumway, the eighth and ninth batters in the lineup, both went 2-for-3 with two RBI a piece. Shumway left a big stamp on the game in the form of an RBI-single straight up the middle to bring around Tresjon Davis in the bottom of the sixth, leaving Noble with plenty of work to do as the game wound down.
"That fourth run was big," head coach Brad Gore said. "The tying run would have been standing at second. It was an overall good game by our team. I'm proud of them to lock up a regional here."
The Fightin' Chicks were up against some solid pitching from the Bears' Derek Underwood. In six innings he struck out seven and walked just two. A two-run rally that gave Chickasha the lead in the fourth was the most he ever gave up at a time.
Belden responded in kind from the Chickasha mound, striking out six while walking one and giving up just four hits in all seven innings. It's part of what allowed the Fightin' Chicks to bide their time and find the hits necessary.
"If they do score a couple on us, we have the ability to hold them, pitching wise, and our defense played an excellent game tonight," Gore said. "I thought Brayden pitched a good game, and when you have good pitching and defense, you can hold them and allow time for your offense to make something happen."
Noble scored a run each in the first and second innings thanks to a single by Caleb Peters and Brayden Buol's contact that brought around Michael Murphy. Belden offered a response from the plate in the bottom of the second with an RBI single to bring in Derek Sullivan.
But Sullivan's work was most effectively done from short stop. He recorded all three put outs in the top of the third to keep Noble off the board, while Brock Henderson at third made up the rest of the wall between the Bears and left field.
Back-to-back singles from Davis and Jake Womack in the bottom of the fourth got Chickasha going, and two well-executed bunts from Belden and Shumway brought them around to give them the lead.
Belden struck out two in the fifth and one each in the sixth and seventh, the only blemish a leadoff double from Brady Bradshaw to make things slightly uncomfortable. It's not the first time Chickasha has produced a solid comeback win at home, and as such probably won't be their last as they head into the postseason.
"I think that's how we're going to win games, that's how we play," Gore said. "If we get behind, we're never out of the game, and if we get a lead, we can hold them off. I'm really proud of these guys. They've worked hard this season, they're a great group of kids and we've just got to keep trudging."