On the day, Wood struck out six, walked just one and gave up one hit, a seventh-inning single by Dylan Rycroft. Two batters later, Buol, the Noble third baseman, tagged out Rycroft for the final out and a landmark win for the Bears’ program.
Noble (33-4) came in ranked No. 5 in the state and, ranking-wise, the underdog against the No. 3 Antlers (27-9). But they kept coming up with the answers, doing all the little things to find the win.
A two-out rally got Noble going in the second inning. Designated hitter Casey Harris reached on an error, Buol singled and Venegas was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
That brought up Wood, the Bears’ leadoff hitter, who fell into an 0-2 count against Deer Creek starter Michael Brinska. But after fouling off two more pitches, Wood turned on one into the left field corner to score Harris and Buol for a 2-0 lead.
Wood retired nine of the first 10 batters he saw, the one runner wiped out on a strikeout and throw-out double play as Underwood, who moved to catcher after leaving the mound, threw out Rycroft trying to steal.
Heigle was just as good, retiring nine straight Bears, once aided by an appeal after Cory Jennings’ sixth-inning double was wiped out when it was ruled he didn’t touch first base. But the one big double by Wood in the final inning did count, and was the blow that lifted the Bears to victory.
Noble advances to face the winner of the Pryor/Carl Albert game at 4 p.m. Friday at Santa Fe.
It’s another big step in what’s been an outstanding year for athletics at Noble. The football team had one of its best campaigns in some time, the boys basketball team reached the Class 5A State Tournament, the girls soccer team went undefeated in the regular season and five Bears reached the state wrestling tournament.
“Our whole community has just come together and supported us and really bought into what we are doing,” said Wood, who rushed for nearly 2,000 yards on that NHS football team.
They’ll have at least one more day to enjoy it.