NORMAN — Tristen Epperson stole a look at the bullpen in the fifth inning, where he saw Jason Burt warming up. The sight was enough to add even another layer of intensity for Epperson, who had pitched Norman High to a three-run lead before a walk and an error put Norman North in a prime position to tie the game.
“There was no way I wasn’t finishing this game,” Epperson said. “I knew I needed to get my stuff together.”
He did. Epperson forced North into a pair of harmless infield flyouts, and he cruised the rest of the way, allowing just two hits in a 7-3 victory that wrapped up the season sweep for NHS in the Crosstown Clash.
“I think it’s the most monumental thing we’ve done as a team,” said Epperson, who struck out four batters in becoming the second Tiger pitcher in as many nights to go the distance in a win over their rivals. “Usually I’m pretty collected, but I was nervous and so excited out there on the mound.”
While Epperson was dealing on one end, the Tigers provided the punch on the other. Sean Dixson led the way with a two-run bomb over the left-field wall in the second inning that put NHS on top 5-0, and they withstood the North rally a few innings later.
“It’s tough to do anything against a good club like that,” NHS coach Pete Sangirardi said of North while his team posed with brooms to celebrate their first sweep of the series in any of their careers. “There’s a lot of respect between the two programs, and our kids did a great job of battling.”
Saving its top two pitchers for a district showdown with Westmoore next week, North was in an uphill battle against NHS from the start. And, while the T-Wolves’ staff did its best, the four pitchers who took the mound couldn’t match Epperson, who was playing in front of a home crowd.