2018 05 08 ConfTournWrapUp 900

May 8, 2018

Panhandle State Communications

Baseball Takes Pride in First Conference Tournament Appearance, Huge Win Over No. 23 Texas Wesleyan

Chickasha, Okla.— Eight teams from the Sooner Athletic Conference would face off over three days of play at Bill Smith Ballpark at University of Science and Arts Oklahoma for the SAC Conference Tournament, and Panhandle Baseball would proudly make its first tournament appearance in known school history. The Aggies ensued a 1-2 record in the post season tournament, taking down No. 23 Texas Wesleyan in a momentous day-one win (11-10). succeeding a fall to the Rams and the host team, the University of Science and Arts Oklahoma Drovers in a day-two elimination round (16-5; 18-1).

Panhandle would hit the ground running, taking on the nationally ranked No. 23 Texas Wesleyan Rams for their first game in the tournament on Friday, May 4. The Aggies were eager to prove their readiness, and did just that as designated hitter Kasey Leatherwood stepped up in his first tournament plate appearance and homered over the left field fence, gaining two RBIs on the board in the top of the second. The alacrity began to spread as second baseman Juan Sanchez singled up the left field line, followed by a succeeding single from left fielder Pierce Edwards to score Sanchez and plate another run before the inning was up. Corey Ley continued to work the mound for the Aggies, sending two Rams down on back to back strikeouts and holding Wesleyan silent through the bottom of the second.

The Rams began to battle back in the third with a three-run homerun by Davila, followed by another three RBI homer in the fifth from Gallegos and an RBI single to bring the score up 7-3, Rams. The Aggies would not stay down and brought a huge sixth and seventh innings comeback to score eight runs, started off by back to back homeruns by Leatherwood and right fielder Jaylon Burnett. An apt at bat yielded a bases loaded walk by first baseman Jared Mayeda followed by a cleanly laid bunt from Burnett that scored two runs on an error by the Rams pitcher. Sanchez would rope a double to right field to plate two more runs before they closed out the seventh inning with the score now 11-7, Aggies. Adrian Lopez would come out of the bullpen to relive Ley after his seven innings pitched in which he doled out five strikeouts on the Rams.

Lopez kept the Rams at bay through the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, but wavered slightly as Wesleyan scrapped for runs and produced two homeruns, and an error by the Aggies’ shortstop Nate Kelly scored another in the bottom of the ninth. Lopez remained composed and retaliated on the rubber, sending the last Ram into a poetically just double play fielded by Kelly to end the game and bring home the save for the Aggies, 11-10. The field flooded with red and grey as the Aggies celebrated a momentous win and emerged on day one of the tournament victorious.

The Aggies were pitted against the No. 8 USAO Drovers for game two of the tournament as they took to the field Saturday afternoon. The number two hitting team in the SAC, the Drovers were swift to pick up freshman pitcher Garrison Armstrong and cut quickly, plating six runs in the first two innings to jump a big lead on the Aggies. Senior Josh Casillas entered the game for Armstrong, but the Drovers continued their hot hitting streak, scoring another nine runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Panhandle got on the board in the fifth as Leatherwood crossed the plate on an RBI sac fly from Mayeda. The Aggies suffered a defensive breakdown and the Drovers continued to build up their tally, scoring three runs in the sixth and seventh, closing out the game in seven innings 18-1.

Having underwent the loss from the Drovers, the Aggies took the field two hours later to again face the Rams in the elimination round. Out for vengeance, the Rams wasted no time and struck quickly against freshman pitcher Blake Tucker, plating seven runs in the top of the first and two in the top of the second against sophomore sidearm Charlie Marini. Panhandle stayed in the fight, scoring on a two RBI single from catcher Gerson Padilla. Wesleyan added another two in the top of the sixth but the Aggies continued to battle, as third baseman Chris Galvan took advantage of a passed ball and crossed the plate and a single from Kelly scored a run to get the Aggies two in the bottom of the sixth. The Aggies had nearly exhausted their bullpen and took a chance on the arm of Kasey Leatherwood, Panhandle’s primary third baseman. Leatherwood took to the mound inheriting two on base, and though his location varied, his 88mph fastball was enough to aid the stall against Wesleyan. The Rams scored three on an RBI double and an RBI groundout, but Leatherwood managed one strikeout and brought the inning to an end on a fly-out to center. With the score 14-4, the Aggies needed a run to stay in the game, and they got it off agile base running from pinch runner Aaron Moreno, but the Rams sealed their victory 16-5 after plating two runs in the top of the eighth off reliever Esteban Carrazco.

The Aggies left Chickasha after two days in the tournament, but took home a solid victory over a nationally ranked team, as well as the pride in their first conference tournament appearance in Panhandle history.

Senior outfielder Pierce Edwards recollected his 2018 season and last game as an Aggie, “This year was special. It is amazing to see how far the program has come in just one year, I am glad to have been a part of it.” Edwards continued, reflecting on the team’s post season appearance, “The conference tournament was an amazing experience. It was awesome to see guys who have never been a part of post season baseball step up in big moments. I’m glad I could be part of a team that made Panhandle history.”

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