The Broken Arrow-Owasso game scheduled for April 15th had been circled on the calendar of MLB scouts and both programs long before the season started. In an article leading up to that game, we called it "the nation's most heavily anticipated matchup of the season." Unfortunately, the game was canceled due to weather. But on Saturday these two powers will finally meet in a game with the highest of stakes in the 2011 6A Oklahoma State Championship game.
They are the top two ranked teams in the state, the top two ranked teams in the region and a pair of top ten ranked teams in the nation. And the game is likely to feature two of the best pitchers in the nation. Broken Arrow will start ace Archie Bradley, the fifth ranked player in the PG Class of 2011 rankings. Owasso will start Phillip Wilson and will have Dylan Bundy available in relief if needed.
Not only is the state championship on the line, but with Owasso currently the #1 ranked team in the nation in the PG National Top 50 rankings they can claim the National Championship if they are able to knock off Bradley and the seventh ranked Tigers. A Broken Arrow win may put them in the running for the final #1 ranking as well.
When asked what he expected from Bradley in the biggest game of his career, Broken Arrow head coach Shannon Dobson couldn’t help but smile. “The same thing I have seen the last three or four games. Him going out there and mowing people down.” Owasso C Drew Stiner said "there's nothing better than to have the last game of your career be for the championship, it's gone so fast."
It will be as big as high school baseball games in Oklahoma get. Here is how each team got here.
Bracket A Final: Owasso 9, Edmond Santa Fe 7
The Rams got a very strong start out of RHP Cory Taylor, whose fastball touched 90 mph and complimented a plus slider, solid curveball and a changeup that he used occasionally against left handed hitters. Taylor struck out the side in the first inning and cruised through the first six innings before fatigue caught up to him in the sixth. Taylor earned the win by scattering six hits over 6 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs while striking out eleven.
It was an intense back and forth battle early on. Owasso scored in each of the first two innings before Santa Fe pulled even with a pair of runs in the third. Owasso answered with two of their own in the bottom of the third to lead 4-2 before Santa Fe made it 4-3 in the fourth. That was when Owasso pulled away with a three-run bottom half. Owasso would go on to score in each of their six turns at bat, taking a six run lead into the seventh and needing just three outs to punch their ticket to the program's fourteenth championship game appearance in the past fifteen years.
Owasso saw their 9-3 lead shrink all the way down to 9-7 with one out in the seventh inning and the bases loaded when head coach Larry Turner decided to bring in C Drew Stiner to Save the game after Taylor had throw 133 pitches. After the game Turner said "Cory had pitched such a great game and was a ground ball away so I kept gambling and gamlbing and left him in there." Stiner had not pitched an inning for the Rams this season, but Turner explained that pitching coach Jason Stump told him heading into the postseason that if they needed a power arm that Stiner would fit the bill. Stiner came in and ended the game with three pitches (88-89 mph), inducing a ground ball back at him that turned into a 1-2-3 game-ending double play.
Taylor admitted to being nervous, when asked how he felt about getting the ball for such a big game he said "it was nerve racking but I just had to go out there and give it my best to give us a chance to win." He did just that, improving to 7-0 on the season and helping the Rams earn the matchup with Broken Arrow that they've been waiting for all year.
Dylan Bundy won't get the start against Archie Bradley after throwing 70 pitches on Thursday. He had been scheduled to face Bradley and Broken Arrow on April 15th, which he said he was very disappointed about, but Turner said he will likely use Bundy in relief if his arm feels up for it.
Bracket B Final: Broken Arrow 20, Jenks 8
Broken Arrow used an explosive offense to rout Jenks 20-8 and claim a berth in Saturday’s state championship against Owasso.
With strong winds blowing straight out to center field all game, the Tigers hit seven homeruns en route to their biggest offensive performance of the year. All nine players in the lineup had a hit, with most of the damage coming in a 14-run 6th inning that broke a 6-6 tie.
RF Alex Graham got the offense going in the second inning with a two-run homer. That was followed by LF Tyler Rolland’s solo homerun to almost the same spot. SS Tyler McKinzie’s RBI double later in the inning gave the Tigers an early 4-0 cushion.
The lead was stretched to 6-0 in the 4th as McKinzie again drove home two runs, this time with an opposite field single.
Broken Arrow looked to be in control with the 6-0 lead as starting pitcher Tyler Kruse had rolled thru the previous two innings, getting ahead in the count with an 85-87 mph fastball and getting outs with a 74-76 mph changeup that he showed very good feel for and a 68-70 mph curveball.
But the Jenks offense fought back, plating six runs in the bottom of the fourth to chase Kruse and tie the game. The big blow of the inning was a two-run double by SS Tom Hightower that made it 6-5. Dillon Argo tied it a batter later, scoring Hightower with a single to right-field.
Broken Arrow brought in 3B Nick Pettus to get the final out of the 4th, and he remained in the game in the 5th, after the BA offense did not score in the top half. Pettus worked out of a two-on, no out jam, as he induced a line-out to McKinzie at SS, before being aided by a botched squeeze attempt that went for the second out. Pettus struck out Eric Kanady on a slider in the dirt, but Kanady reached first on the wild pitch, only to be stranded as 2B Tanner Halowell took a called third strike to end the inning.
From there the Tigers offense exploded, hitting five homeruns in a 14-run 6th inning. Tyler McKinzie hit a two-run shot to dead center to give the Tigers an 8-6 lead. Three batters later C Dylan Delso crushed a long homerun to RF to give Broken Arrow an 11-6 lead, only to be outdone by the next batter, Archie Bradley, who hit a long homer of his own to left field.
Here is video of Delso's three-run homerun.
“This is where we expected to be,” said Dobson, “we’ve grown for three years and this is right where we thought we would be.”
First pitch of the Owasso/Broken Arrow matchup is 12 noon at ONEOK Field, home of the Tulsa Drillers, the AA affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. PG High School will be providing live coverage on twitter, and live scoring on Gamechanger, as well as a full post-game recap with video of Bradley, Bundy and other top players.