Ethan Grimett was visibly more hyped than usual.
After rounding first base and reaching second safely, the senior flexed his muscles and shouted “Let’s go!” at the top of his lungs. His exclamation was justified, as it came in response to his 3-RBI double to left field that cut Claremore’s four-run deficit to one in the third inning.
“There was a lot of energy around both teams,” Grimett said. “It was just a moment of hype, so I had to let it out – a bit of frustration and all.”
And he was just getting started. It was the first of three doubles for Grimett, who then went 4-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs.
Unfortunately for the Zebras, those numbers weren’t enough to defeat McAlester in a 7-6 loss Thursday afternoon at the Zebra/Tiger Classic at Murray-Pixley Park at Legendary Legion Field.
The Buffaloes took a 4-0 lead in the first via a 2-RBI Ethan Gillespie double and a pair of RBI singles from Bryson Martin and Caden Lesnau, but Brazen Bockius managed to limit the damage for the rest of his three frames on the mound. .
Then came the time for Grimett to take some of McAlester’s lead.
After his 3-RBI brace cut the deficit to 4-3, neither team scored again until Grimett landed his second brace to score Gannon Sherl for the tying run in the fifth.
“I felt pretty good, actually,” said Grimett, who rebounded positively after going 2-for-14 with four strikeouts in four games at the Gulf Coast Classic in Alabama last week. “I saw the ball very well today, and my mindset and approach when I go to home plate is ‘short and sweet’, not trying to overdo it or hit too hard. If you stay short and soft, the ball will fly. That’s kind of what I did today, I had a great day and I’m happy with it.
Claremore coach Jim Sherl said he also liked what he had seen in the seniors, although he would like Grimett to produce performances like this consistently.
“It’s about time,” joked Sherl. “He’s our best hitter, and he has been for a few years now. He struggled in Alabama, but he’s going to hit. Today is bad for him because it is almost what is expected of him. It’s a hell of a day against a very good team. He’s a good player and a good hitter, and we want to see him every time. »
The score did not remain deadlocked for long, however.
Three pitches after Trent Boatright led the sixth with a single, Lleyton Bass homered the right-field wall to put the Buffaloes ahead at 6-4. It served as the game-winning shot, and Gage Mullins followed with an RBI single to left field three shots later to make it 7-4.
The Zebras rallied again in the bottom half, scoring runs on a Walker Brown pitch and an Easton Phillips single, but it was the closest they would get.
Grimett opened the bottom of the seventh with a double to right field after the Buffaloes went three-up and three-down, but Lesnau dashed Claremore’s hopes with back-to-back outs and a fly out to end the game.
“It’s not as frustrating as giving them points,” Sherl said of the failed comeback. “It’s kind of been our thing so far; we are still trying to figure out some things. We walk too many guys, hit too many batters and make mistakes on some routine plays – that’s what’s frustrating. When we can figure that out and fix that, some of those close games that we’ve lost, we’ll turn them into wins. We are better so far than what we have shown.
Lesnau finished with three strikeouts in three innings of relief for McAlester, allowing five hits, three runs and a walk on 53 pitches. Boatright was credited with the win, throwing seven strikeouts while giving up five hits and three runs on 58 pitches in four innings of work.
Bockius and Brown pitched for the Zebras in the loss, the former throwing four strikeouts on four hits, four runs and four walks on 75 pitches over three innings. The latter pitched four innings out of the bullpen, striking out one while striking out four hits and three runs on 58 pitches.
“Brazen came out and started the game, and he struggled,” Sherl said. “We have district games on Monday and Tuesday next week, so we’re really concerned about the pitch count. His pitch count was just too high early on, and Walker came in and did a great job. His job is not to hit people. His job is to put it in play and let us make plays behind it, and he did his job. He gave up the only big home run, but other than that he did a great job. He gave us ground balls and fly balls, they just had too many runs.
“We are one mistake away from winning this game. We’re one practice line down there at the end of winning this game.
Although the Buffaloes handed Claremore what was his fourth straight loss, Grimett said he had no worries or worries at this point in the season.
He’s confident the Zebras can turn things around by diving into district play next week and with a view to hosting a regional tournament and making their first appearance in a state tournament since 2019.
“Honestly, I like the way we played today,” Grimett said. “We all raced well, and it’s a learning moment because it’s still early in the season. We just have to keep building on that and keep stacking the games and keep playing better and better every day. Eventually, I think we’ll all get there, and we’ll all be hot. It will be really fun to watch.
Oktaha 4, Claremore 0: In what was a relatively calm game on Friday afternoon, the Tigers made just enough plays to hand Claremore its fifth straight loss.
The teams were scoreless in three innings, but Oktaha broke the deadlock in fourth on a sacrifice fly ball from Mason Ledford. A Hunter Dearman RBI brace to center field and a two-run error in the fifth accounted for Tiger’s remaining points.
Seven hits were tallied between the teams, with Oktaha winning the battle at home plate 5-2.
Tyler Allen kicked the shutout for the Tigers in an all-game effort, throwing six strikeouts while allowing a 68-pitch walk.
Grimett took the loss after 4.1 innings on the mound, hitting one strikeout while giving up two runs on four hits and two walks on 69 pitches. Grant Evans closed the game for the Zebras, allowing a hit, two runs and a walk while striking out one on 37 pitches in 2.2 innings.