OKLAHOMA CITY — After a seven-year absence, Owasso has made a triumphant return to the top of the Class 6A baseball world in Oklahoma.
Erupting for 13 hits on offense and with a third complete-game pitching performance in as many days, the Rams knocked off Edmond Santa Fe 7-3 on Saturday afternoon in the Class 6A state baseball championship game before a crowd of 2,500 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
Cole Deason and Branden Floyd each had three hits while Noah Smallwood drove in three runs with a second-inning, bases-loaded triple while sophomore righthander J.T. Davis allowed just five hits for Owasso, whose last state crown had come in the Rams’ most recent finals appearance in 2015.
The Rams (32-8), who finished the season winning 12 of their last 13 contests, now have 14 state titles, second only in Oklahoma to Asher’s 22 crowns on the diamond.
“It feels great. It feel great,” Owasso head coach Larry Turner said of the title, which gives the Owasso High School product the distinction of having been involved with at least one title in each of the last six decades as either an Owasso coach or player dating back to the 1970s. Turner was a member of the the school’s first championship squad in 1973.
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“I’m so happy for these kids,” he said. “They worked so hard. We had a sophomore on the mound today that went out and threw a complete game. Just got great, timely hitting and played defense. Just the way I would have dreamed.”
The 2022 Rams squad includes 16 seniors, seven of which started in the title game. Several made big contributions against the Wolves (31-12).
After Santa Fe tallied a run in the bottom of the first inning on three hits off Davis (6-0), Owasso responded in its next at bat.
Senior Brennan Phillips drew a leadoff walk, his fifth of the tournament. After an out, senior Solo Skalnik laced a triple to left centerfield. He scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Jake Morrow to even the game at 1-1.
Floyd and senior Deason followed with singles. Junior Baylor Corbin then hit a grounder to Santa Fe’s second baseman. On the play, Deason was ruled out for interference to leave runners at first and second bases with two out.
When senior Markus Mirabal’s roller down the third base foul line stayed fair, hitting the third base bag for a single, the Rams had the bases loaded.
Smallwood, the team’s senior leadoff hitter, then cleared the bases with an opposite-field drive for a three-run triple. The hit, Owasso’s fifth of the inning, put the Rams ahead for good, 4-1.
“My first at bat all they did was throw me outside so I knew what was coming that second at bat,” Smallwood said about his bases-clearing triple. “I sat on it and drove it to right center.
“Amazing. Redemption from last year,” he added in reference to the team’s exit in the state semifinals in 2021.
“Just working hard every day, never taking a day off and doing the little things right. Little things turn into big things as you can see.”
The Rams made it 6-1 with two runs in the third. Skalnik and Morrow opened the frame with back-to-back doubles before, with two out, Mirabal stroked an RBI double to drive in Morrow.
“It means so much for me because I know that, since I have been playing with these guys my whole life, they’ve just been dedicated their whole life to this tradition,” Skalnik said about among the team’s 16 seniors.
“They wanted to be an Owasso baseball player and win state. That’s what we do.”
The Rams’ final run came in the fifth. Floyd and Deason, who was making his second straight start at second base after senior Zach Burnes was injured in the state opener on Thursday, started with singles. Deason’s hit came while he was attempting to bunt Floyd to second base.
After a sacrifice bunt from Corbin moved the runners to second and third bases, Tuner called on Burnes to pinch hit. Burnes laid down a sacrifice squeeze bunt to score Floyd and put Owasso in front 7-1.
“He’s going to be my roommate next year and he’s one of my best friends I’d say,” Deason said of Burnes about the two, who plan to play for Carl Albert State College beginning this fall.
“It’s good that I could step up and do my job, just do my job for the team. That’s it.”
With his teammates providing plenty of run support, Davis settled down after the first inning holding Santa Fe hitless for three straight innings. He allowed a hit and a run in the fifth inning and worked around a leadoff Rams error to start the sixth.
In the seventh, Davis issued his first walk of the day followed by a pair of wild pitches and a two-out, two-strike run-scoring single by Jaxson Meadors that brought the Wolves to within 7-3.
But after getting two strikes on the next hitter, Jace White, Davis struck out the Santa Fe catcher for the final out on his 120th pitch. With Davis having reached his pitch limit for the day, White was the final batter he would have faced.
“This is the best feeling I’ve ever had this whole season,” Davis said after fanning seven Wolves’ hitters, getting three of the final four outs on strikeouts.
“I didn’t think I would be starting today. I thought I would be coming in closing. Started and threw a complete game today and felt the best thing ever.”
Duncan 15, Piedmont 4 (6 innings): The Demons (29-7) raced to a seven-run lead after two innings and then exploded for a six-run sixth on the way to a 15-4 run-rule victory in a battle of schools that were each seeking an initial state crown.
Duncan, which scored 17 runs in a semifinal win Friday against Collinsville, took advantage of 12 walks issued by Wildcat pitchers. Piedmont (32-89, which defeated Sapulpa in the semifinals, finished with 10 hits but could not break out against Duncan hurlers Blake Barnard and Eli Ramirez.
OWASSO 7, EDMOND STANTA FE 3
Edmond Santa Fe;100;010;1;—3;5;1
J.T. Davis and Baylor Corbin. Jackson MacWilliams, Blake Seefeldt (2), Nick Noble (5) and Jase White. W: Davis (6-0). L: MacWilliams. T: 2:26.
DUNCAN 15, PIEDMONT 4
Blake Barnard, Eli Ramirez (4) and Jackson Poage. Jordan Askren, Cole Girard (1), Weston Thomas (2), Jackson Harriger (6) and Harriger, Noah Smith (6). W: Ramirez. L: Askren. T: 2:41.