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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Oran survives Bell City upset bid

Friday, May 23, 2003

Oran players greet Joey Bickings after his two-run home run in the sixth inning on Thursday in the Class 1, District 2 championship game
(Photo by Lance Hanlin, Staff)
ORAN -- Joey Bickings blasted a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning, leading Oran to a 3-1 win over Bell City in the Class 1, District 2 championship game on Thursday.

It was one of few offensive highlights in an error-filled game that was dominated by pitching.

"In this type of game, you're just glad to win," said Oran head coach Mitch Baker. "We didn't play very well today, but that's part of it. We did what we had to do to win, and that's the mark of a good team."

Another sign of a good team is taking advantage of the other team's mistakes. Oran was able to do that, capitalizing on two backbreaking blunders made by Bell City.

Oran's first run came in the third inning, when Nathan Seyer reached on an error, then later scored on a passed ball.

Bell City came back to load the bases with one out in the top of the fifth. But after a Blaine Stewart strikeout, Kenyon Wright walked off third base thinking there were three outs.

Seyer quickly threw the ball to third baseman Tyler Nelson, who tagged Wright to end the inning.

"You can't give a team like Oran mistakes like that," said Bell City coach Matt Asher. "We knew we had to play well to win, and I thought we did. A few mistakes here and there made the difference."

Bell City tied the score in the top of the sixth when Jack Daniels went deep over right-center. The Cubs then looked to take the lead when Ty Brown was hit by a pitch. He stole second base, but slid past the bag and was tagged out to end the inning.

Trey Graviett led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. After a Tyler Cookson strikeout, Bickings provided the two-run shot over right-center to give Oran the 3-1 lead.

"We've hit big home runs all year long," said Wood. "That ball right there would've gone out in most parks. It was a huge hit for us."

Bell City was unable to score in the top of the seventh, giving Oran the victory.

Bell City's Darrell Bailey got the tough-luck loss, allowing two earned runs on four hits and one walk in six innings. He took six Oran batters down via strikeout.

"He pitched his butt off," said Asher. "He battled probably the best hitting team in the state, and held them to two earned runs. He really gave it his all. It was a great effort by a great kid."

Graviett was equally dominant for Oran, picking up the complete-game win.

In seven innings, he allowed one earned run on one hit and three walks with seven strikeouts.

"He's not one of those guys that is going to throw strikes constantly," explained Wood. "He's always around the plate. He throws a lot of balls, walks people and usually comes back and gets them. That's what we look for."

Oran (19-2) will travel to North Pemiscot on Wednesday for the sectional round of the Class 1 playoffs.

The time of that game will be set later. Bell City ends its season with a record of 14-5. The Cubs will lose five seniors to graduation.

"Overall, it was a pretty good year," said Asher. "We won 14 games and battled the number one team in the state. We just couldn't get it done today."