(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
SPRINGFIELD -- For the second straight year Oran players found themselves faced with the task of getting up early after an emotional loss in the semifinals and fighting for third-place in the Class 1 Show-Me Showdown.
Like last season the Eagles didn't disappoint, jumping on top early and pounding out 12 hits in a 9-4 win over the Sturgeon Bulldogs on Thursday that secured Oran's eighth third-place finish in school history.
"We had to do it last year so we knew how we had to play after a loss (in the semifinals)," Oran senior Blake Carlyle said. "It hurts every time, but you always have to come back, play hard and try to get a win for your last game of the season."
In a scene similar to Wednesday's semifinal loss to Santa Fe, the Eagles put up a pair of first inning runs and had a 2-1 lead after 1 1/2 innings of play.
This time, however, Oran's offense continued its assault, tacking on runs in all but the fifth inning.
After starter Seth Ressel shut down the Bulldogs in the top of the first, Oran got a pair of RBI singles from Carlyle and Dalton Elfrink to go ahead 2-0. Sturgeon got on the board with a run in the second, but the Eagles responded with a three-run rally in the bottom of the frame.
Ressel connected for a triple to drive in the first two runs of the rally before Alex Heuring made it back-to-back three-baggers to plate another run and push the Eagles ahead 5-1 after two frames.
Sturgeon grabbed another run in the third before Oran responded with another three runs in their next two plate appearances to pull away at 8-2.
Attempted to rally in each of the final three innings, Sturgeon scored a run in both the fifth and seventh innings, but stranded another three runners in the process.
On the contest the Bulldogs stranded seven runners on the base paths.
"We had three innings in a row where we two on and two out" Sturgeon head coach Kevin Hicks said. "We just couldn't get that big two-out hit. We may have been able to put a little more pressure on them had we done that.
"We got anxious and swung at some pitches early in the count that we probably could have waited until deeper in the count to get something else a little better to hit."
On the game the Eagles outhit the Bulldogs 12-7, with three different Eagles ended the day with multi-hit efforts.
Ressel, Carlyle and Elfrink each went 2 for 4 at the plate, drive in two runs apiece. Ressel had the above mentioned triple while Carlyle had the Eagles' only double.
Kody Moore had a single while driving in and scoring a run while Heuring, Jacob Priggel, Adam Schaefer, Hicks and Chance Tenkhoff all added a hit to Oran's cause.
"We have a good history of coming out and playing well in the third-place games," Moore said. "We're just too uptight that first game (in the semifinals). When we come out relaxed you can see what happens.
"We won 9-4 today and last year in the third place game we won 10-0. It's just the same story."
After using both Elfrink and Kody Moore in their semifinal game, the Eagles turned to sophomore Seth Ressel against the Bulldogs. Ressel gave Oran seven full innings, surrendering two earned runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out four.
It took Ressel 96 pitches to finish the game, 60 of which went for strikes.
"I felt pretty good out there," Ressel said. "I'm a little sore now."
Added Wood, "We had a young kid that was going to come in and finish up, throw him a little bit. But Ressel was doing a good job so I left him in there."
His counterpart, Ryan Seidel, took the loss. He went three innings and gave up seven earned runs on nine hits and two walks with a strikeout.
Hunter Smith threw the final three frames and gave up an earned run and three hits. He fanned two and issued a pair of walks.
"It's been our formula through districts, sectionals and quarterfinals to throw Spencer Kelly through the first game and Ryan come in for the second game," Hicks said. "I though Ryan was really tense, especially as a freshman on the mound. He wasn't very loose and he just never had command of his off speed pitch."
Leading the Bulldogs at the plate was Lane Arends, who went 4 for 4, hitting a double, scoring once and driving in a run.
With the win Oran remains undefeated in third-place games with an all-time 8-0 record. They have three second place finishes in Class 1, but are still searching for that elusive first state championship.
"It's really good to bounce back and end the season on a good note,"Heuring said. "You don't want to go out with two losses in a row and, especially, since we've never finished fourth. You never want to end it like that."
Sturgeon 011 010 1 - 4 7 2
Oran 232 101 x - 9 12 3
WP -- Seth Ressel. LP -- Ryan Seidel. Multiple hitters: (S) Lane Arends 4-4; (O) Seth Ressel 2-4, Blake Carlyle 2-4, Dalton Elfrink 2-4. 2B -- (S) Arends; (O) Carlyle. 3B -- (O) Ressel Alex Heuring.