Class A baseball: Wright City turns disappointment into drive to win state title
Conner Bastarache was freed up in the end.
Down to his last batter no matter the result, the Wright City senior was able to go back to what had made him so effective for the game’s first six innings.
The at-bat ended with Rattan’s Rece Bankston swinging at a curve ball in the dirt, Lumberjax catcher Brady Evans stepping on the plate and with a celebration in front of the mound.
Wright City beat the Rams 5-1 on Saturday at Palmer Field to win the Class A state championship — the first in the sport for the far southeastern Oklahoma town.
“It’s something that I’ve wanted more than anything,” Bastarache said.
Two hits after a one-out hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Rattan in the seventh as the pitch count concerns led Bastarache to lean more heavily on fastballs in the zone in the seventh.
But after Bastarache was able to strike out Brawley Dempsey for the second out, conserving just enough pitches to earn him one final batter, Bastarache had a conversation with Evans.
“Let’s just go with curveballs,” Bastarache said. “Do what makes me good.”
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One went in the dirt but drew a swing. The second was effective as well. The third was back in the dirt but Bankston swung, Evans blocked it and the Lumberjax were champions.
The genesis of this championship, Lumberjax coach Kyle Butler said, came last Oct. 5 at Edmond Memorial when he addressed his team after a 6-0 loss to Silo in the fall Class A state championship game.
Sure, they was plenty of sadness there. But Butler also noticed a quiet resolve in his team.
“They were already mentioning things that we had to do to get better,” Butler said. “I could see it in their eyes.”
That carried over through into an incredible 35-win spring that culminated in Saturday’s championship.
“I felt like we gained enough confidence that we could do whatever we wanted almost,” Evans said, reflecting back to the fall. “We gained so much from that experience.”
The Lumberjax took the lead in the first when Bastarache singled to lead off the game, stole second and eventually came home on Evan’s sacrifice fly. The added one in the second on a solo home run by Kaden Crosby and then piled on three more in the fourth with a string of hits.
“It went by fast but it’s such a special feeling,” Butler said. “I’m just honored to be a part of it.”