NORMAN — For the second straight day, the Crosstown Clash was defined more by its mistakes than anything else. For the second straight day, it was Norman North that was best able to take advantage of those mistakes. And for the second straight day it was the Timberwolves that walked away with a one-run victory, Tuesday’s coming in a 5-4, come-from-behind win over Norman High.
Nerves were once again running high when the two teams met for the rematch at North, a day after the T-Wolves pulled out a 3-2 victory on the Tigers’ home field. That nervousness was evident from the first inning, when a North error on the third batter of the game allowed NHS a free baserunner, to a string of passed balls in the third that put North on the board, to a pair of Tiger errors in the fifth inning that allowed the T-Wolves to retake the lead.
The Timberwolves were trying to complete the sweep of NHS and extend a dominating win streak in the series, something that played on their minds throughout the contest. In addition to three errors North had several baserunning mistakes, including one that led to a momentum-shifting triple play for NHS in the fourth.
“I think our players were just trying to do too much today,” North coach Brian Aylor said. “A lot of the mistakes we made were uncharacteristic of us as a team.”
Behind a strong pitching outing from starter DJ Gasso, the Timberwolves struck first, courtesy of a few Tiger mistakes. With two outs in the bottom of the third, Daniel Herron earned North’s first hit of the day. Three straight passed balls allowed him to come all the way from first to put North on the board. A pair of singles later and North stretched its lead to 3-0.
But if a few Tiger mistakes allowed North to take control, the T-Wolves returned the favor. Threatening to add to their lead in the bottom of the fourth with runners on first and second, the Timberwolves hit into a double play and had a runner picked off trying to sneak home.
The triple play swung the momentum into NHS’ favor, and the Tigers struck back in the fifth. A pair of walks and a well-executed bunt loaded the bases for NHS, and a fielding error allowed two runs to score. Dax Marley followed up with a hard hit to left field, and North’s third error of the game brought in two more to put the Tigers on top.
“It’s a game of momentum, and that triple play gave them all of it,” Aylor said. “That’s a huge momentum shift because of self-inflicted wounds on our part.”
But Gasso came through at the plate in the bottom half of the inning. He doubled to bring in Herron to tie the game, and Austin Taylor followed up with a sharp ground ball to first base that allowed Gasso to come across the plate and provide the winning margin.
“It wasn’t our best baseball today, but we had the will to win,” Gasso said. “In a game like this it’s always going to be close and there’s going to be mistakes, but that was the difference. This is a big boost for us.”
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