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Monday, Apr. 21, 2014

Oran survives scare from Naylor with grand slam in seventh

Sunday, May 29, 2011

(Photo)
Oran players greet Alex Heuring after he hit a grand slam home run in the seventh inning to put the Eagles ahead 14-13 against Naylor in a Class 1 quarterfinal game on Friday in Oran. David Jenkins, Staff
ORAN -- Oran's Tyler Heuring may want to find a summer job.

He promised his younger brother, Alex Heuring, he would give him $100 if he hit a home run with the bases loaded and their Oran Eagles baseball team down 13-10 in the top of the seventh inning against Naylor on Friday evening.

Alex is now $100 richer.

The sophomore drilled a delivery from Naylor hurler Cory Kovach to deep left field for a game-changing grand slam to cap what was a wild game at Oran during the Class 1 quarterfinals.

"I've got to pay up," said Tyler Heuring, although he didn't seem to mind his little brother called him on his bet. "He's been struggling all year offensively and for him to do that was just awesome."

It was Alex Heuring's first hit during the three and a half hour contest that featured 94 total plate appearances, six different pitchers, four home runs, 25 walks, 19 hits and eight hit batsmen.

"I'm not going to lie," Alex Heuring said, "I was praying to God the whole time I was at the plate. I haven't been hitting well all season. I knew I had to come up big."

Alex Heuring's blast was just the topper to a game that would be filled with big innings, big hits and pitching from one spectrum to the other.

"We've had a couple like this before and don't get me wrong, it was a great game, but wow," Oran head coach Mitch Wood said in wonder.

The Eagles (22-2) will be moving on to their 10th state final four appearance in school history and first since 2008.

Their semifinal game will be on Wednesday, June 1 against Liberal (19-4) at Meador Park in Springfield.

Oran began the top of the first inning on fire. They plated five runs on two hits, both of which were home runs.

Tyler Heuring started the scoringfest with an emphatic, three-run home run to left field which was the first of two long balls for him. Following a walk to Nolan Urhahn, Zach Chasteen sent a two-run shot of his own over the fence to give the Eagles an early, 5-0 lead.

Oran eventually went up 6-0 after the top of the third on an RBI, sacrifice fly off the bat of Kody Moore scored Blake Carlyle from third.

However, just as quick as the Eagles were able to jump out of the gate, Naylor used the bottom of the third as their springboard for run support.

Taking advantage of five walks, five hits and three Oran pitchers, Naylor pushed across nine runs to completely change the momentum of the game.

Dalton Elfrink began the inning after throwing the first two scoreless. He coaxed a groundout out of the innings' first batter, Dalton Woodard but then gave up a single and two walks to load the bases.

Elfrink was lifted for Moore who only saw two batters, giving up an RBI single to one and an RBI walk to the other. Wood then put Elfrink back on the mound who gave up two, bases loaded walks and a run-scoring single to the only three batters he saw.

"I kept changing around and doing silly things," said Wood. "This has just been a silly year all the way around."

Wood made his final pitching move when he called upon Zach Chasteen.

Chasteen entered with the bases loaded and just one out in the third inning. To his first two batters, Chasteen gave up a two-run double and a run-scoring single. He got the second out by way of a fielder's choice play at second and the third by strikeout.

To his recollection, it was the first time Wood believed a team of his ever gave up nine runs in one inning. He reassured with longtime assistant coach Larry Boshell during the event.

"I was asking Boshell, 'I don't think we've ever in my career gave up nine runs,'" Wood said. "He said 'I don't think we have either.' I was just really puzzled. We've gave up four or five runs an inning but, nine runs -- that's a lot of runs if you think about it."

By the time all three Oran pitcher's had their crack at Naylor's 13 batters of the third inning, Oran was down 9-6.

"The one thing over the years is that, number one, the best team doesn't always win, and two, you can't quit in this game. You've got to keep battling and keep the pressure on them," Wood said.

Oran wasted little time battling back though, as they scored three more runs in the top of the fourth which included Tyler Heuring's second home run of the day.

"I saw a lot of good pitches and I jumped on them," Tyler Heuring said. "Luckily, I hit them really solid."

Kovach was lifted two batters later, who both reached base. He gave way to Cody Collins who promptly walked the bases loaded and then a run in to his first two batters. Although he struck out Alex Heuring, two balls to Oran's No. 9 hitter, Dylan Dannenmueller, was enough for Naylor coach Jeff Null to call his ace, Dalton Woodard, to the hill.

Woodard entered the game with just three more innings remaining left in the week as he pitched all seven against Oak Ridge in the sectional round.

Although, Woodard did give up a two-pitch walk to Dannenmueller that scored a run, he struck out both Moore and Elfrink to end the inning and Oran's threat.

"We had the bases loaded jam earlier in the fourth and I kind of felt that was the key part to the game," Null said. "We had to get out of that and keep our team in it mentally. It worked out at that point. I knew the seventh was going to be tough."

Riding Woodard's two strikeouts with some momentum, Naylor pushed across four more runs in the fourth.

Both Woodard and Chasteen found some rhythm, each working scoreless frames in the fifth and sixth innings. But Naylor's Woodard could not go back in to pitch in the seventh after using all three of his remaining innings which meant they would have to go back to Kovach.

"I knew it wasn't going to be easy," Null said about going back to Kovach in the seventh. "I was just hoping we could get some at-'em balls hit right at us and maybe the bats go our way. But that's baseball."

Kovach retook the mound for Naylor and gave up three hits and two walks which included Alex Heuring's go-ahead grand slam.

"I saw it traveling but, I was just looking for runs," Alex Heuring said. "Luckily, it went over."

Added Wood, "I just told them that we're not playing good defense, we're not pitching very well so we've got to outscore them," he said. "That's what we've tried to do all year long. That was the first time of the year we've ended like we've started. We usually get going like that and then we quit a little bit. The kids battled."

Chasteen allowed two runners on base during the bottom of the seventh but worked three ground balls. His last coaxed grounded was a roller to Dannenmueller at second who flipped to Moore standing on second to end it.

Fans and players alike jumped for joy.

"We have that never give up attitude," Tyler Heuring said. "Somehow, we pulled it out miraculously in the end. It was awesome."

Chasteen picked up the win in 4 2/3 innings pitched. He gave up five runs, five hits and two walks. He also struck out five.

"Chasteen, you can't say anything bad about him," said Wood. "He did a great job. He may have gave up two or three runs but he did a great job coming in and battling."

Tyler Heuring had four hits and four RBIs to lead Oran's offense. He was just a triple shy of the cycle.

Oran 501 300 5 -- 14 8 3

Naylor 009 400 0 -- 13 11 1

WP -- Zach Chasteen. LP -- Cory Kovach. 2B -- (O) Tyler Heuring; (N) Dalton Woodard. HR -- (O) Tyler Heuring 2, Chasteen, Alex Heuring.


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