(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
EAST PRAIRIE -- Oran's 13th game of the season was nearly an unlucky one.
Visiting the East Prairie Eagles on Thursday, Oran had to fight through a late inning deficit to continue their unbeaten streak and debunk the 'unlucky 13' myth for a 5-3 win over East Prairie.
"That is an unlucky number isn't it?," joked Oran head coach Mitch Wood. "We struggled a little bit but, right now we're finding ways to win ballgames."
Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning already ahead by one run, Oran hit a bump in the road as East Prairie rallied for two runs.
A leadoff single by Ryan Mathis set the stage for East Prairie. A fielder's choice error committed by Oran put both Mathis and Dalton Golightly on second and first with no outs.
Two batters later, a hit up the middle by Nathan Maynard allowed Mathis to tie the game at one run apiece and move Golightly to third base.
Maynard's hit was the last batter Oran starter Dalton Elfrink saw. Elfrink gave way to Zac Chasteen after 4 1/3 innings of work.
"Dalton struggled today,"Wood said. "He threw a lot of pitches but overall, he battled and that's all you can ask of him to do. He's a good pitcher."
A walk to Shawn King loaded the bases for Mikey Russell who smoked a line drive off of Oran's newly appointed pitcher. The shot to Chasteen's torso bounced away from the mound, downing Chasteen for a brief period, and allowed Golightly to give East Prairie a 2-1 lead.
"We got a couple (in the fifth inning) but what was bad we had a few more guys on base and we couldn't make anything happen with it," East Prairie head coach Gary Scott said. "Against a good team like Oran where you know they're capable of scoring more runs, if you have the opportunity to push some more runs across you've got to do it."
Chasteen regrouped from the line drive he took and coaxed a force out at home as well as a fly ball out to short left-centerfield to end the inning and East Prairie's scoring threat.
"I thought he did a fantastic job," Wood said about Chasteen. "Especially after getting nailed like he did. Not many kids would go back out there and try to do something after that and he did. I was really proud of him for coming back like that."
Oran regained the lead in the top of the sixth and wouldn't trail again. They took advantage of two infield miscues by East Prairie and allowed both Seth Ressel and Dylan Dannenmueller, the first two Oran batters of the inning, to advance to second and third with no outs.
East Prairie's third error of the inning, a deep fly ball to right-centerfield, off the bat of Kody Moore tied the game at two.
"If you put the ball in play, things happen," said Wood about capitalizing on East Prairie's blunders. "That's baseball. You have to play seven innings."
And RBI single by Tyler Heuring put Oran back in the driver's seat. Chasteen added Oran's fourth run on a sacrifice fly.
"We gave ourselves a chance but one bad inning cost us," Scott said. "Sometimes that one inning that's all it takes and that's what happened today."
The Eagles made it 5-2 in the top of the seventh following a double by Blake Carlyle and an RBI fielder's choice during Ressel's at-bat. East Prairie got out of the inning on a 5-4-3 double play to limit the damage.
East Prairie (4-6) tired mounting a comeback with a last-gasp effort in the bottom of the seventh. Alan Miller reached first and then second on an infield error by Oran. Miller eventually came around to score when Russell singled him in from third with two outs already in the inning.
"We were uncharacteristic for any errors there for a while," said Wood. "But, we've come back to earth here lately. We're a high school baseball team and we're going to make errors. Hopefully, we don't make them in crucial situations and right now we're not."
Chasteen ended up getting the win on the mound for Oran pitching 2 2/3 innings. He allowed one unearned run on two hits, both by Russell.
Russell was the hard-luck loser, pitching 6 1/3 innings. He gave up five runs but only two were earned. Connor Scott pitched the remaining 2/3 in the seventh inning.
"(Russell) threw the ball well," said Scott. "I can say that the defense kind of let him down a little bit. He gave us a chance to win and we didn't take advantage of a good outing by him.
"We're right there," added Scott. "We had one bad inning and it slipped away from us. This would have been a good win to say we beat Oran, but, it didn't happen."
Oran (13-0) will defend their unblemished record against Charleston on Monday while East Prairie travels to Kelly on Tuesday.
Oran 001 003 1 -- 5
East Prairie 000 020 1 -- 3
WP -- Zac Chasteen. LP -- Mikey Russell. 2B -- (O) Blake Carlyle.