(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
But here Oran sits, just one game away from reaching the state semifinals for the third year in a row after Wednesday's 14-1, five-inning domination of North Pemiscot in a Class 1 sectional game at Oran High School.
Oran will play at Thayer tomorrow at 4 p.m. in the Class 1 quarterfinals.
Thayer (18-4) whipped Valley Caledonia 18-8 in five innings.
Oran, now 21-3, has just seemed to pick up where they left off last year, except they're winning every more handily.
But as Oran coach Mitch Wood says, the Eagle factory just keeps churning out baseball players.
"The kids are excited and they take a lot of pride in their program and that all feeds off the community, little league and the whole nine yards -- it's all coming from there," said Wood. "The bad side of that is every year everybody expects it. But we continue to win and we're going to ride it while we can."
The Eagles left little doubt early that this game would be as close as last year's as the first three batters of the game all singled.
Oran, playing as the away team, scored four runs in the top of the first highlighted by freshman Chase Seyer's two-run double.
North Pemiscot (16-5) threatened in the bottom of the first as they had runners on second and third with nobody out, but pitcher Matt Seyer got out of the jam with a ground ball back to the box and a strikeout.
The Eagles got into the jam when Brandon Massey singled and stole second. An error on second baseman Austin Dumey allowed B.J. Flippo to reach, but they had Massey caught up in a run-down at third.
Massey was able to make it back to third when nobody covered the base.
"We had that rocky defensive first inning and we didn't do very well, but we got out of it," said Wood. "That's the way we've been doing it all year. You just hope those mistakes don't catch you one of these days. But hey, one more game and I'll take my shots after that."
Oran continued to pile it on in the top of the second as North Pemiscot pitcher Flippo hit the first two batters to start things off.
Garrett Roslen's two-run single made it 6-0, which chased Flippo from the hill. But reliever Dustin Boatwright couldn't stop the bleeding either as Chase Seyer had an RBI-single and a sacrifice fly by Dumey made it 8-0.
They extended the lead to 12-0 in the top of the third. Roslen had an RBI-single, Joey Williams had a run-scoring double and Chase Seyer had another RBI-single.
In all, the Eagles collected 17 hits in the game, something they have been doing the majority of the season as their .374 team batting average attests.
"They came out swinging the bats and that was two pretty good pitchers we saw," said Wood. "Both kids threw well and had good breaking stuff. But we've been swinging the bats all year. We went through a small spell about three games where we didn't swing it well. And right now it's up and down the lineup -- it's not just three or four guys like most 1A teams. Right now I've got nine or 10 kids that can hit."
North Pemiscot's lone run came in the bottom of the third when Les Thompson blasted a solo home run over the left field fence to break the shutout, cutting the lead to 12-1.
Oran got two more runs back in the top of the fourth on a two-run home run by Matt Seyer to right field, making it 14-1.
The Mustangs threatened one last time in the bottom of the fourth but the Eagles turned a 4-6-3 double play to get out of the jam.
Matt Seyer threw three innings, allowing two hits and one run. He struck out three and walked one.
Chase Seyer threw two scoreless innings in relief, striking out two and allowing one hit and one walk.
"(Matt) looked good and did a good job on the mound," said Wood. "His arm bothered him a little bit and that's the only reason I took him out. He's pitched well for us lately so we expected that."
Chase Seyer was 4-for-4 with four RBIs. Roslen was 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Matt Seyer was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
North Pemiscot had three hits with one each from Thompson, Massey and Ben Henke.
Flippo took the loss for North Pemiscot, throwing 1 1/3 innings. He allowed six hits and seven runs. He struck out two and hit two batters.
"It's not hard to hit when you've got to stick it down the middle," said first-year Mustangs coach Jamie Johnson. "I felt like we didn't hit our spots today and we put ourselves in counts where we had to stick the ball down the middle of the plate. They've got a good ballclub and we just didn't play well."