May 3, 2013

Chicks reach regional final with big wins

CHICKASHA — Two overwhelming wins for the Chickasha baseball team have put them on the doorstep to state, as they reach the Region 4 tournament final.

A solid outing for sophomore pitcher Mario Medina helped  Chickasha to a 15-1 win over Guymon in their first  tournament game Friday.

Later, a four-run first inning against Ardmore set the Chicks up for a 10-2 rout.

Medina struck out five batters and let up two hits in Friday’s first game to keep the visiting Tigers from getting the bats going to balance out their disappointing day on the mound. Guymon made three pitching changes in the four and a half innings played, and at one point the Fighting Chicks had seven runs on the board without recording any hits. Batters and runners advanced on eight walks and a slew of stolen bases and wild pitches.

“I really haven’t seen anything like it,” head coach Brad Gore said. “At one point I told the umpire we might run-rule them without recording any hits. We figured our hitters might struggle, because when they start walking you a lot, you’re not sure whether to swing or not. We’re just proud of our guys for being patient.”

Hayden Johnson finally recorded the first of seven hits for Chickasha in the second inning, to go along with two runs and two RBIs for the right-fielder.

But it was Medina who stole the show, with a performance that impressed his coach.

“He hasn’t had the year he wanted to have, but it was a really important pitching performance from him today,” Gore said. Medina stepped in after starter Ryker Steelman was pulled after just two batters—one walk and one advance on a wild pitch – in the first inning. It was a tough break for the youngster, but Gore said it was the right move.

“All year he’s either had it or hasn’t,” Gore said. “We decided we’d give him a couple of batters to see how he’d do.”

Medina, happy for the opportunity, gave a composed performance on the mound to keep the Tigers at bay, while the Fighting Chicks as a whole provided solid fielding.

“Most people might freak out a little,” Medina said. “I knew if I came in, they’d want me to just throw strikes, so that’s what I did. I don’t throw very hard, but I know that if I keep it smooth, it’s going to do what I want it to do.”

Blake Burns led the way with the bat for the Chicks against Ardmore, going 2-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Also with 2 RBIs was Cade Morris, who went 2-4 and scored tacked on a run. Brant Hale had two runs and went 1-4, his only hit coming as a lead-off triple in the bottom of the sixth.

The win puts Chickasha on the doorstep of a trip to state, with the Region 4 Final coming tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. The Chicks will play either Ardmore again, Guymon, or Bishop McGuiness, who suffered a shock 4-3 defeat to Ardmore in the afternoon game on Friday. Coach Gore was happy to see his team dispose of Ardmore so easily, but he remains wary of the threat both they and McGuiness pose.

“We were concerned after Ardmore got that one,” Gore said about his opponents’ upset win earlier that day. “We knew [McGuiness] would come to fight; they’re a young, hungry team. We’re very glad to get the win.”

Chicks number-one starting pitcher Lane Smith started the game, as was expected, but he was pulled after just one inning in place of Blake Burns, who finished the game with four strike outs and let up two hits and one earned run. Smith struck out two and allowed no hits, but Gore said he decided to save his ace after his team went up 4-0 in the first inning with full knowledge that Burns could do the job.

“Lane’s been our number one all year,” Gore said. “We talked before the game, and felt comfortable with all the guys we had. So, we decided if we took a good lead early that we’d rest him.”

Chickasha will find out who their regional final opponent is tomorrow. Guymon played Bishop McGuiness in the late Friday game, with the loser going home in the double-elimination tournament. The winner of that game will play Ardmore at noon, and a rematch of Ardmore-McGuiness is highly possible. Should Chickasha lose their 2:30 p.m. game tomorrow, a seventh game will be played immediately afterwards to decide the regional winner.


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