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All eyes are on the prize

May 05, 2019 - 00:00
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KHS baseball grabs 2 regional victories, needs 1 more to reach state tournament

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    KHS SENIOR pitcher Creighton Bugg watches one of his deliveries earlier this season quite intently. He was part of one of two Kingfisher shutout wins in its 4A regional on Thursday. [Photo by Russell Stitt/]

Kingfisher got over one threshold in its first game Thursday.

It cleared another in the second.

Now the Jackets need just one win in two tries to leap over yet another, which would be the biggest of them all.

Thanks to a pair of shutouts, KHS is in the driver’s seat of the Class 4A baseball regional. The Yellowjackets blanked Sulphur 10-0 in a five-inning run rule then stayed in the winner’s bracket by holding off Clinton 2-0.

That advanced them to Friday night’s regional championship (after press time), leaving them one win shy of advancing to the state tournament for the first time since 2009.

KHS would play the winner of the Heritage Hall-Clinton elimination game, which would precede the regional championship.

In each of the last two seasons, the Jackets have had to fight through the loser’s bracket after dropping their regional opener.

That didn’t happen this time around as Creighton Bugg and Keaton Abercrombie needed only 47 pitches to dispatch of the Bulldogs.

Bugg threw three innings, struck out four and gave up two hits and tossed just 25 pitches. Abercrombie hurled the last two innings, struck out two and didn’t surrender a hit.

That left both pitchers available for Friday, if needed.

At the plate, Cole Cross-white broke the game open with a three-run double in the second inning, pushing Kingfisher’s lead to 5-0.

Cade Stephenson’s single in the third added two more runs.

Crosswhite had two of Kingfisher’s seven hits and also scored twice.

Tate Taylor and Zach Goodwin scored twice each.

Runs were at more of a premium against Clinton, which was coming off a 7-6, eight-inning win over Heritage Hall to stay in the winner’s bracket.

The Red Tornadoes trotted out ace Valek Cisneros and he responded by striking out eight Jackets and giving up just two hits.

However, two things worked against him: Six Clinton errors and Ian Daugherty being the opposing pitcher.

The Jackets used some small ball and a single from Keaton Abercrombie to push Crosswhite home in the bottom of the first.

Three Clinton errors in the second eventually led to the Jackets’ Will Taylor scoring on Goodwin’s groundout.

That’s all Kingfisher got, but that’s all it needed.

Daugherty was just as good as Cisneros and his defense was better.

The sophomore also gave up two hits and struck out eight as Clinton was shutout for the first time this season.

Although he walked three batters and hit another, he was able to work out of every jam that was created.

His best friend other than the strikeout was centerfielder Clayton Abercrombie, who had eight putouts.

Keaton Abercrombie had both of Kingfisher’s hits in the game.

The victory upped the Jackets’ record to 31-6, setting a new school record for wins previously set in 2017.

That season ended with a loss to Heritage Hall in the regional championship, as did last year’s.

Heritage Hall avoided elimination Thursday night by knocking out Sulphur 14-1 in five innings to set up a rematch with Clinton.

If weather permitted, games were to be played at 5 and 7 Friday night. If necessary, a decisive game was set for 1 p.m. Saturday.

Check Times & Free Press’s social media pages for updates on results and any necessary schedule changes prior to Wednesday’s edition.