NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Class 4A baseball roundup: Harrah tops Newcastle on walk-off wild pitch in eighth inning

EDMOND —  Before Kolby Visnieski even crossed home plate, Harrah senior Tyler Delong was celebrating along with each Harrah community member and fan.

It’s been 43 years since that was possible.

Visnieski scored on a wild pitch to send the Panthers to a wild 6-5 walk-off victory over Newcastle in the eighth inning of the Class 4A state semifinals Tuesday night at Edmond Santa Fe High School.

The run marked the end of a long-standing drought of baseball championship game appearances that dates to 1976, the Panthers’ lone title run.

Harrah gets the title chance against powerhouse Blanchard at 4 p.m. Wednesday inside Oklahoma’s L. Dale Mitchell Park.

“It’s a special moment,” Harrah coach Charles Copeland said. “I’ve been here six years and to see where we’re at today, to know that our goal in August was to play on the final day and to get that opportunity is truly special.”

Nothing is ever easy ending droughts.

Harrah (33-4) struck early with a three-run home run from Damon Foster in the first for a 3-1 lead. Newcastle (24-12) rallied to tie the game in the fifth.

Harrah looked set for the win when Visnieski tripled and scored in the sixth. With left-hander Shea Morrison on the mound, it looked like a done deal.

But he reached his 120 pitch-count limit with two outs in the seventh. Copeland had to pull him after 6 2/3 strong innings.

“He wasn’t perfect, but he was good when he needed to be,” Copeland said. “It’s unfortunate that pitch count got him and he couldn’t finish it off because I felt like he was amped up to do it.”

Garrett Revene entered and the Racers found a rally.

Down to his final strike, Greg Ninness singled. He advanced on two wild pitches and scored on an infield single by Kruz Vargas to tie the game and force extra innings. But on the final pitch, Revene felt something wrong in his elbow.

He lobbied to come out for the eighth. He was even better than, striking out two.

That set up the magic that reverberated through the small community east of Oklahoma City. Visnieski singled and advanced on a passed ball. Gaven Revene moved Visnieski and reached first on a bunt single.

After a walk to Brian Byers by new reliever Matthew Miner to load the bases, Delong strolled to the plate. He worked the count and Miner unleashed a pitch behind Delong to the backstop.

It was time to celebrate.

“I’m glad we’ve got some gritty players,” Garrett Revene said. “All of those big moments have prepared us for this one.”

Blanchard 7, Kingfisher 4

Ty Vanmeter hasn’t forgotten last season’s heartache. Neither have his teammates.

Blanchard, the title favorite, fell to Elgin in the championship. That ate at each player the past year and became motivation.

Now, the Lions are one step closer to redemption.

Blanchard (38-0) held off a late charge from Kingfisher to advance and continue an undefeated season.

“I think we just had a chip on our shoulder all year, and we wanted to prove ourselves,” Vanmeter said. “I just think it’s part of the journey. It gives us the motivation to keep going this year.”

Vanmeter pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits. Kingfisher (33-8) scored four runs in the final two innings, forcing Vanmeter to exit due to his pitch count nearing the 120 limit with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh.

Tyler Henry got Clayton Abercrombie to ground out to end the game.

“I wanted to finish it, but I knew when I gave the ball up he was going to come in and get the job done,” Vanmeter said.

Four different Lions drove in a run, including three by Bryce Madron.

And now the Lions are one step closer to the title that eluded them last season.

“With everything on the line, I think the guys are embracing it,” Blanchard coach Josh Raney said.

Related Photos
<strong>Harrah's Damon Foster, right, runs home after hitting a three-run homer in the first inning of a Class 4A state semifinal against Newcastle on Tuesday at Edmond Santa Fe High School. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</strong>

Harrah's Damon Foster, right, runs home after hitting a three-run homer in the first inning of a Class 4A state semifinal against Newcastle on Tuesday at Edmond Santa Fe High School. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-59305c236f566161e91a92f03f3e58b0.jpg" alt="Photo - Harrah's Damon Foster, right, runs home after hitting a three-run homer in the first inning of a Class 4A state semifinal against Newcastle on Tuesday at Edmond Santa Fe High School. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Harrah's Damon Foster, right, runs home after hitting a three-run homer in the first inning of a Class 4A state semifinal against Newcastle on Tuesday at Edmond Santa Fe High School. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Harrah's Damon Foster, right, runs home after hitting a three-run homer in the first inning of a Class 4A state semifinal against Newcastle on Tuesday at Edmond Santa Fe High School. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-88284444c8440f7d67c6c58c7811a677.jpg" alt="Photo - Blanchard's Colby Read slides back to first base in the third inning of Tuesday's Class 4A state baseball tournament game against Kingfisher at Edmond Santa Fe High School. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] " title=" Blanchard's Colby Read slides back to first base in the third inning of Tuesday's Class 4A state baseball tournament game against Kingfisher at Edmond Santa Fe High School. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] "><figcaption> Blanchard's Colby Read slides back to first base in the third inning of Tuesday's Class 4A state baseball tournament game against Kingfisher at Edmond Santa Fe High School. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] </figcaption></figure>
Jacob Unruh

Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the... Read more ›

Comments