SHAWNEE — Norman North accomplished more than any team in school history. The Timberwolves won 22 regular-season games and advanced to the state tournament for just the fourth time in program history. More than that, they earned a trip to the state title game for the first time in North’s 16-year history.
But the magic ran out on Saturday, as the T-Wolves fell 5-1 to a juggernaut Owasso squad that completed the first perfect season in the history of Class 6A, finishing its run with a 36-0 record.
“This has been an extremely special group that’s taken us to new heights and put Norman North on the map,” coach Brian Aylor said. “They play the game hard and play the game the right way. Today we just ran into a team that was destined for greatness.”
Part of that greatness came from Rams pitcher Braden Webb, who was dominant on Saturday after spending much of the last month battling a hamstring injury. The junior pitched a complete game, striking out four batters and forcing the T-Wolves into a number of ground balls. North managed just three hits on the night, with several would-be base hits taken away by diving defensive plays.
“He’s just a gamer,” Owasso coach Larry Turner said of Webb. “And our defense made some great plays. (Going undefeated) is just really hard to comprehend. I told the kids it won’t sink in for a while so enjoy the moment.”
The Rams weren’t the only team to make several highlight-reel defensive plays, but they were the only team to avoid the costly errors. Owasso’s first baserunner of the game came on a North error on a routine ground ball and eventually allowed the Rams to jump out 2-0, while another error in the fifth inning brought in two more runs for the Rams to stretch the lead to 5-1.
Brad Kinsey, who pitched almost four innings in Thursday’s first-round victory, started the game for North and gave up just one earned run in four-plus innings of work before three other T-Wolves split the remaining pitches.
With Owasso up 2-0 in the first inning, North plated its only run of the game in signature Timberwolves’ fashion. Luke Jones led off the inning with an infield hit on a bunt and then stole second. Nick Basquine followed up with a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner, and Daniel Herron brought him in on another bunt while also taking first base on the play.
But Herron was caught stealing, the first of two times that happened in the game, and Owasso added another run in the third. That set the stage for the fifth inning when a misfielded ball in right field allowed the Rams to bring in two more.
“You could feel the energy dissipate after that play in the fifth inning,” Aylor said. “But our guys didn’t give up. We set the tone in the first inning that we were here for real, and our guys fought to the last out. You’ve just got to tip your hat to Owasso.”
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