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Class 3A Oklahoma bi-district baseball: Spiro fights back to force winner-take-all championship game against Idabel

Spiro's lone senior, Jared Huff, had a memorable night.

By Buck Ringgold 

SPIRO — As the lone senior on Spiro's roster, Jared Huff was going to have his Senior Night festivities following the Bulldogs' bi-district playoff series Friday.

With the Bulldogs having suffered a crushing run-rule loss in the opening game, Huff was determined not to be honored by his team after being eliminated.

Huff got Spiro going with a second-inning home run, and the rest of the Bulldogs followed suit as they evened the series and forced a deciding third game with a 12-4 win.

The two teams return to Spiro at 1 p.m. Saturday to decide the bi-district champion, with the winner advancing to next week's regionals and the loser going home for the season.

In the opening game Friday, Idabel broke a 4-all score by scoring 15 combined runs in the fourth and fifth innings en route to a 19-4 run-rule win.

"I told the guys in between games, there's one or two things you can do," Spiro coach D.J. Gist said. "You can either want this season to be over with or you can win this game and go push it to a third one and see what happens, and they came out and they responded in a big way."

Huff, who was going to be honored on his Senior Night regardless of the outcome of that second game, helped swing momentum back to the Bulldogs.

In the top of the second of a scoreless game, Zander Riggs led off by being hit with a pitch, bringing up Huff. Huff quickly turned on a pitch to send it soaring over the wall in left field, giving Spiro (19-12) a 2-0 advantage.

"As soon as it came off the bat, I knew it was gone," Gist said. "He crushed that ball.

"It's hard to be an only senior on the team, and it's definitely hard to be the only senior on the team that graduated six everyday guys and a (pitcher) off last year's squad that won 30 games, and for this club to step in and do what they've done this year is pretty impressive. They've won 19 ballgames and we've been bitten by the injury bug left and right."

Huff's blast also gave the Bulldogs a renewed spark.

"The energy was low and we just needed something to get us going, and that jump-started us and then it was smooth sailing from there," Huff said. "That just got us going and got us all pumped and it's just what we needed to get going."

Spiro added two more runs in the second when Hunter Sparks hit a two-run double with two outs. The Bulldogs went on to score in every inning thereafter.

In the top of the fifth, Riggs led things off with a solo blast to left center, which gave the Bulldogs an 8-0 lead before Idabel finally scored in its half of the inning. Spiro later built a 12-1 advantage in the top of the seventh.

Pitcher Gannon Shackelford was the beneficiary of that run support as he went on to record the complete-game win. He gave up one earned run on seven hits, striking out 11.

"Gannon pitched the ball extremely well for us that game, in a do-or-die game, and I felt like we played better defensively, I felt like we swung the sticks better and put together a lot better plate appearances as a team," Gist said. "When you do that, you have a chance to win."

Riggs ended up going 2-for-2, also adding an RBI double in the third to go along with his fifth-inning homer. Corbin Miller was 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the sixth, and lead-off batter Blake Dedmon drove in two runs and scored three times.

For Idabel (10-14), Rilyn Coleman and Matrail Lopez each went 3-for-4. Coleman also drove in all four of the Warriors' runs, including a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

Following the game, Huff was definitely all smiles as he went to home plate with his parents and received congratulations from Gist and the rest of the Bulldogs.

"I did not want this to be my last one, and thankfully it wasn't and I don't want (Saturday) to be my last one, so we're just going to keep bringing it and just have that positive attitude, that positive energy and just control the effort," Huff said. "We're going to bring all the effort we can."

Idabel 19, Spiro 4

GAME 1 - In the top of the fourth of the opening game, the Warriors started taking command.

Idabel scored six runs to snap a 4-all score, and the Warriors added nine more runs in the fifth to finish with the run-rule win.

Seven players had multi-hit games for Idabel, and three homered.

Waylon Phillips had two of those blasts, one to lead off the second and the other a grand slam that capped the six-run fourth.

Lopez opened the game with a lead-off homer, while Shaw Storey had a two-run shot that finished off Idabel's nine-run fifth. Lopez was the Warriors' top hitter, going 3-for-4 and driving in a pair of runs. Phillips had six RBIs as well.

Angel Yanez was the winning pitcher, going all five innings and giving up nine hits. He struck out four batters as well.

Huff, Miller and Dedmon had two hits apiece for Spiro, which scored all four of its runs in the bottom of the first.