High School State 3A Baseball Tournament: Vian gives up eight in the first and can’t recover
EDMOND — Vian High’s baseball team’s run at the Class 3A State Tournament ended before it ever got started.
The Wolverines who had visions of winning the 3A State title found themselves behind the preverbal eight ball or eight runs to be exact against Victory Christian.
Victory Christian scored eight of their nine runs in the first inning and Vian couldn’t dig themselves out of such a massive hole as the Conquerors ended the Wolverines’ season with a 9-3 victory Thursday afternoon in a State 3A opening round game playoff game at Edmond Memorial High.
“We needed a big hit and didn’t get it,” Vian coach John Brockman said. “That first inning we’re one pitch away from getting out of it 3-1 and they got a couple of hits, we made another error it kind of got out of hand.”
Victory Christian sent 12 batters to the plate in the opening inning as seven different Conquerors players had at least one hit while leadoff hitter Brenden Fink and No. 2-hitter Jordan Graham both had two hits in the first.
Graham’s two-RBI double capped an inning where Victory Christian had eight of their 14 hits and scored five runs with two outs.
“It seemed like every time they would hit a ball it would find a hole,” Vian senior catcher Elijah Crist said. “They just get runners and find a way to score. It was that first inning that beat us right there.”
Vian — who scored a run in the top of the first — scored two runs in the top of the second inning when Whitt Fletcher and leadoff hitter Kaleb Glass scored on a Javier Ramos fielder’s choice.
From then on the Wolverines couldn’t score another run.
It wasn’t for lack of hits or base runners as Vian left 13 runners on base.
“When you don’t get hits you’re not going to win,” Brockman said. “You give up eight but you have 13 guys left on base a couple of innings we get a hit there or a hit there it might be 9-7 or something. The game would be a lot different than 9-3.”
Vian (33-6) who defeated Chandler 13-1 (five-inning mercy rule) three days prior to clinch their third State Tournament appearance in four years came into the game familiar with Victory Christian.
The two teams faced off back on Apr. 3 where the Wolverines topped the Conquerors 5-4 in eight innings.
“They played better baseball than us,” Vian second baseman Kaleb Glass said. “We wanted it but I feel they wanted it more. They executed and we didn’t execute at times and it costs us big.”
Crist went 3-for-4 at the plate while Glass went 2-for-5 and Tyrus Wells went 2-for-3.
Vian had multiple runners reach base in every inning.
“Stuff just didn’t fall for us today,” Wells said. “That was the difference in the game.”
The Wolverines, who less than one week prior to the State tournament, came back from a 10-4 deficit to defeat Spiro in Regionals, remained upbeat throughout the game.
With that win fresh in their mind the Wolverines believed they could do it again.
“We’ve done it before and it wouldn’t have been surprise if we had done it again,” Glass said of Vian having another late game rally to win. “We just couldn’t pull it together this time. It’s over now.”
Victory Christian starting pitcher Paul Rector gave up eight hits, allowed four walks, and beaned two batters was able to get outs when they mattered most.
“We needed to bring those guys in,” Wells said of Vian leaving 13 runners on base. “It almost happened to us in Regionals and it caught up to us in State. You can’t do that type of stuff up here.”
Fink went 3-for-3 with a pair of runs and an RBI, Graham went 3-for-4 and Caleb Edwards went 2-for-4.
All nine-position players all had at least one hit for Victory Christian.
The Conquerors (18-13) fell 5-3 in the semis to eventual State champion Jones.
The Wolverines will graduate eight seniors from the team — all of whom were in the starting lineup — from this year’s roster including Ramos who will play at Missouri State next year.
For a team that spent the bulk of the season as the No. 2-ranked team in 3A simply making it to the State tournament wasn’t what Vian was expecting.
The Wolverines felt they were going to culminate a run of three State tournament appearances in four years with a State title.
“We thought we had it this year, we just came up a little short,” Wells said.