By Corbin Hosler
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Timberwolves stand just one game shy of the state tournament after a pair of impressive victories Wednesday on the first day of the regional competition.
North cruised to a 7-2 victory over Lawton Eisenhower in the first game of the day before beating Southmoore 4-0 behind a pitching gem from Brad Kinsey.
The wins give North a chance to punch its ticket to the state tournament with a win in one of the next two games. The first contest is scheduled for 6 p.m. today, though officials expect that to be pushed back to Friday due to rain. If North loses that game, the Timberwolves will have another chance at 1 p.m. Friday, or Saturday in the case of the expected delay.
“You can’t ask for more than two wins today,” coach Brian Aylor said. “There could be a lot of excuses with it being a doubleheader and the pressure of being the host team, but they came out and took care of what they needed to do.”
On Wednesday, the Timberwolves looked the part of a state tournament contender. They accumulated 11 runs on 19 hits through two games and came up with timely hit after timely hit, especially after Lawton Eisenhower cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth inning.
But, as they’ve proven they will do throughout the season, the Timberwolves responded. Nick Basquine singled in a run and Daniel Herron followed it up with an infield single to set the stage for DJ Gasso and Kallen Snodgrass, who followed up with hits to stretch the lead to 5-1 and put the game away.
“This group, they’re something special,” Aylor said. “They have high expectations, they’re ready to meet them.”
North also plated four runs in the second game despite stranding 12 runners, but the contest belonged to Kinsey. The junior went the whole way, striking out 13 batters without issuing a walk while giving up just five hits. Throwing just 99 pitches, he worked out of several jams caused by errors and carried the Timberwolves into the championship game.
“I was just trying not to do too much,” Kinsey said. “I was sticking to what I’m comfortable with and doing what I know. This was pretty special for me, and I think we’re set up for the rest of the weekend.”
While Kinsey was dealing, North also provided him with the run support he needed. The T-Wolves struck first in the third inning after Tyler Bottoms, who finished 3 for 3 at the plate, reached first after the catcher interfered with his swing. The Timberwolves went on to load the bases and score on RBIs by Basquine and Herron.
They also got plenty of help from the SaberCats. In addition to the interference call, Southmoore also committed two errors, the second of which was especially costly. Nick Ward led off the sixth inning with a deep hit to left field that looked like a standup double, but officials ruled him out after he failed to step on first base while rounding the corner.
That gave Kinsey the momentum he needed, and he retired the next five batters to end the game.
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