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Oklahoma Class 6A baseball: Owasso secures program's 14th state title with 7-3 win against Edmond Santa Fe

Sophomore pitcher J.T. Davis delivers for the Rams.

By Buck Ringgold

OKLAHOMA CITY – On an Owasso team with 16 seniors on the roster, perhaps the player feeling the most pressure Saturday was an underclassman.

J.T. Davis, a sophomore, was handed the assignment to be the starting pitcher for the Rams' Class 6A state championship game against Edmond Santa Fe.

Though Davis had a shaky first inning, he settled down and eventually pitched a complete game. Owasso's bats backed him up, especially with a four-run second as the Rams claimed the program's 14th state championship with a 7-2 win at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.

"I felt a little bit of pressure. … (But) I got out here and I just stayed calm and relaxed, and I did great," Davis said. "I had people cheer me on and helped me up and helped me do great for this team and this tournament."

Of the five hits Davis allowed, three came in the first inning as Santa Fe took a 1-0 lead. But he overcame the shaky start and threw three hitless innings from there.

"I think he just settled down a little bit and had really good command of his slider. … He was just cruising," Owasso coach Larry Turner said.

"I thought J.T. was amazing, a sophomore really getting in there after the first inning, settling down and getting established. Obviously, it's going to make him better and then more of a competitor and everything going forward."

Davis also struck out seven, with his final strikeout coming on his final pitch, which was Davis' 120th pitch on a full count. Had Davis allowed the batter to reach base, he would have had to come out due to reaching the mandated 120-pitch limit.

"I just had to relax, calm down, just take deep breaths, keep my confidence up and basically just go throw the ball down the middle," Davis said. "If they hit it, they hit it, but I had people behind me to field the ball."

Owasso broke through with four runs in the top of the second. The big hit came with the score tied at 1-all and the bases loaded.

Noah Smallwood, the team's lead-off batter, hit a shot into the gap in right center where Santa Fe center fielder Drew Qualls nearly made a diving catch. But the ball got past him and rolled to the fence as all three runners scored, with Smallwood making it to third on a triple for a 4-1 Rams' lead.

"My first at-bat, all they did was pitch me outside, so I knew that's exactly what they were going to do," said Smallwood, one of the Rams' 16 seniors. "My second at-bat, I sat on a fastball low and away and hammered it to right center."

Smallwood added there was a chance that Qualls was going to make the catch.

"A little bit (of a chance), and then I saw him turn his back towards the field and I knew it was over his head," Smallwood said. "I had to turn on the jets to get three."

Smallwood's bases-clearing hit continued what had been an outstanding state tournament for him.

"My first game (Thursday's quarterfinal), I went 5-for-5; just seeing the ball really well, and the second game (Friday's semifinal), I went 2-for-5," he said. "I started both games off with a double just to get our team hot and on track to winning one game at a time."

Owasso tacked on two more runs in the third, starting with back-to-back doubles from Solo Skalnik and Jake Morrow, the latter scoring Skalnik. Another double, this from Markus Mirabal, brought in Morrow to make it 6-1, Rams.

Then in the fifth, it became 7-1 when Branden Floyd led off with a single and eventually scored on Zach Burnes' squeeze bunt.

Davis then did the rest, finishing off the win although the Wolves did add runs in the bottom of the fifth and with two outs in the seventh.

Saturday's win was also the 12th championship won by Turner, who has been Owasso's coach for nearly 40 years. Earlier this season, he notched his 1,200th career win.

"No, no it doesn't (get old winning another state title)," Turner said. "It's an amazing feeling, and I told these kids before the game, you would never know until you do it, and then once you do it, you'll get it. ... You've just got to have trust in the process and work wins, and we got it done."

The Rams (33-8) also had to navigate a state tournament field loaded with contenders such as defending 6A champion Jenks, Edmond Deer Creek and Bixby, all having won at least 30 ballgames. Santa Fe also won its 30th game in Friday's semifinals.

"They really enjoy being around each other; nobody is worried about the limelight, they're just one of nine pieces in the puzzle and it's a team game and we're just going to do whatever it takes to get to the next man," Turner said of his latest group of Rams. "To get three complete games on the mound is just amazing with the tournament field that we had."

The Rams pounded out 13 hits in Saturday's win.

Floyd and Cole Deason each went 3-for-4 for the Rams, and Floyd scored two runs. Skalnik was 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and two runs scored, and Mirabal went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

Qualls was 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored for Santa Fe (31-12), which took a 1-0 lead in the first on a two-out RBI single from Blake Seefeldt. Jackson Meadors had an RBI hit as well for the Wolves in the later innings.

Owasso also won state for the first time since 2015.

"We just worked hard every day in practice, gave it our all and then once playoffs came, we just said we've got to win six games in a row; it's that easy," Smallwood said.