PRYOR, OK —
After a 4-2 loss at district foe McAlester Thursday, Pryor needed some help — and to help itself — to secure a third seed in next week's regional tournament.
The Tigers used a little luck and a lot of skill over the weekend to win two straight games to close the regular season, a pair of 5-1 victories at Durant and at home against McAlester, clinching third place in the district and avoiding a rematch with rival Claremore.
In Saturday's pivotal home game against McAlester — with the 1983 and 2003 state semifinal squads watching from the bleachers — the Tigers (21-10, 10-4) scraped out the win they needed, led by outstanding performances from seniors Casey Holloway and Zack Hammock on Alumni Day.
Hammock (8-2) pitched a three-hit complete game, allowing a single run and striking out seven Buffaloes. Hammock won his eighth game of the year and came through with a clutch performance when his team needed it most.
Lead-off batter Holloway was 2-for-2 with a base hit and a triple and batted home a pair of runs. Holloway also stole two bases to bring his season total to 36.
McAlester had a two-game lead on Pryor after their win Thursday, but dropped a 14-1 contest with 2-seed Tulsa Memorial heading into the Saturday showdown which would decide the 3-seed outright.
Pryor jumped out to a 2-0 lead after an inning before McAlester threatened with their only run of the game in the top of the fourth to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Tigers responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth and another in the fifth to boost the margin to 5-1.
Rightfielder Nate Wolfe played a big part in the Pryor scoring down the stretch, going 2-for-2 with an RBI. Wolfe, Spencer Henson and Bradley Nixon all stole a base.
In Friday's 5-1 win at Durant, the Tiger bats were lively. Henson went 2-for-4 with a trio of RBIs, while Wolfe knocked a solo home run.
Junior pitcher Kelvin Grubbs improved to 4-2 on the hill with a seven-inning two-hitter. Grubbs had a productive day at the plate, going 2-of-3.
The win secured the Tigers' fifth-straight 20-win season and their 11th in the last 13 years. It also helped Pryor avoid a grudge match with Claremore in the first round.
The Zebras, ranked second in Class 5A, ousted the Tigers in last year's regional tournament. They won't get an opportunity to repeat that feat yet, as Pryor will travel to Grove instead.
The Tigers and Ridgerunners share identical records (21-10) and are ranked ninth and 10th in the final OKrankings.com poll. Records and rankings mean nothing now, though, as postseason play begins this week.
The tenth and 30th anniversary Tiger squads were honored during the festivities Saturday, with a home run derby after the game. Both the 1983 and 2003 teams made it to the final four in the state. Kevin Burdick, a member of the 1983 team, and Oliver Odle and Ryan Thompson, of the 2003 team, were named to the All-State teams in those years.