The bats were hot early and often for both MacArthur and Eisenhower on Saturday, but the Highlanders had more offensive punch — in one inning in particular — to beat the Eagles 16-6 to win the 45th Bo Bowman Invitational baseball tournament.
Eisenhower appeared to get off to a promising start, beginning with a walk by Will Trachte, a single by Carson Cooksey and a double by Justin Strickland that plated Trachte for the game’s first run, still with no outs recorded. But after a Marshon Williams fly out, Thomas Richards popped one up to first base, where Mac’s Jackson Shirkey made the catch while falling down. Shirkey then rose back up and threw home to get Cooksey out trying to tag up, ending the rally and the inning.
MacArthur responded in the most emphatic way possible. Having already used their best pitcher, Marshon Williams, in both games on Friday, the Eagles were thin on pitching for Saturday's title game. The Highlanders took no time in teeing off on Ike starter Ross Booker. Julian Love drove in two runs with a double, while Eli Goodner walked, Shirkey got an RBI single and Josh Santos doubled home two more runs, putting Mac up 5-1 and prompting Ike skipper Jay Vermillion to pull Booker and replace him with AJ Elkouri.
Elkouri didn't fare much better, walking home a run and walking the bases loaded before being replaced without recording an out.
But as rough as that was, it was about to get worse for new pitcher Isaak Barber, whose first pitch was launched over the left field fence by Mac's Earl Moseby for a grand slam, capping a 10-run first inning for the Highlanders.
The Eagles began to build some momentum in the 2nd inning, as MacArthur pitcher Tony Puccino struggled with his command, walking five batters on the day and throwing more balls than strikes. Greg Curtis got on base via walk, and later scored on an error. Barber was hit by a pitch and was driven home by Trachte.
That momentum stayed with Ike in the bottom of the inning. Thomas Richards came in to pitch, and was efficient, only needing two pitches to get two outs, and after allowing a walk, struck out Gage Graham to finish the inning.
Beginning to play with more confidence, Eisenhower kept cutting into the lead. Richards drove home Strickland and Williams scored on a sacrifice fly to make the Mac lead just 10-5. Stephen Brown came in to pitch and prevented any further damage.
The same could be said by the boys in Columbia blue, as Puccino led the inning off with a triple (his first of two on the day). Two batters later, Colby Flood let one fly for a two-run dinger. Mistakes cost Ike dearly in the 3rd, as Love got on base on a dropped third strike and a total of three runs scored on fielding/throwing errors, making it 15-5 after three innings.
Despite the gaudy scoring numbers on the day, the two teams only combined for 12 hits. But as is often the case in tournament play, with teams playing as many as five games in three days, pitching and defense were the key factors.
Earlier in the day, Elgin and Ada faced off for third place. After five innings of closely-contested baseball saw Ada lead 5-3, Elgin came alive on offense. Nacona Tahdoonippah smacked a 3-run home run. Not long after, Gage McElhaney got a hold of a pitch and turned it into a 2-run dinger. The Owls would continue to pile on in the 7th inning and would wind up winning, 13-6.
MacArthur (9-8) now plays a home-and-home with district foe Del City this week, beginning with a home date with the Eagles on Monday. Eisenhower (10-8) does not have a district matchup this week, and instead gets ready for the Bill Tipton Classic at Carl Albert, beginning with a game against Midwest City on Thursday.