SULPHUR – After coming up just short of a championship appearance last season, Pitkin sealed a trip to Friday's championship game behind a solid pitching performance and one big inning.
The No. 1 Tigers defeated No. 5 Glenmora 9-1 Wednesday afternoon at McMurry Park in the Class B State Semifinals.
"Last year, these guys made it to the semifinals, and it didn't go the way they wanted it to," Pitkin head coach J.C. Holt said. "This year, they've taken every single pitch and tried to fight during every single pitch.
"I cant' say enough about this group of guys. They have a great coaching, and they have a lot help. Anytime you have that, it's a recipe for success."
Pitkin pitcher Garrett Edwards kept the Wildcats in check, striking out six over six innings and allowing just one hit.
"His cutter wasn't working real well today, and he told me he had some arm discomfort, so we called mostly fastballs," Holt said. "We didn't deviate from that. We stayed hard and didn't throw off speed a lot.
"He just battled. He told me he was having some discomfort, but he just went up there and battled."
Leading 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, the Pitkin offense came alive, scoring seven runs, including a 2-RBI single by Ethan West and a 2-run double by Grant Goleman. The Tiger capitalized on two errors later in the inning to plate a pair of runs.
"It allowed us to take Garrett out," Holt said. "With the weather coming in, we don't know. It allowed us to take him out at 80 pitches. We're not trying to save him for anything but just in case."
The Wildcats' lone run came in the top of the third after back-to-back errors, but the Tigers took the lead in the bottom half of the inning after Scotty West tagged up on a fly ball by Johnathan Baker to make it 2-1.
West went 1-for-3 from the plate with two runs scored, an RBI and two runs scores, while also coming up with a diving catch in centerfield on defense.
"He's a scrappy guy," Holt said. "He doesn't strike out a lot, and he puts the ball in play. He can run and will hustle out everything to first base. That's why he is in the nine-hole – he's almost like a second leadoff hitter."
The Tigers will take on Converse at 2:30 p.m. Friday on Field 40 at McMurry Park.
"The boys made a pact at the beginning of the year that they wanted to make it to the state championship game, and they've done that" Holt said. "Hopefully, we continue to fight and luck will be on our side on Friday.
"It means a lot, to be honest with you. I was running on a six-year streak of losing in the quarterfinals. It means a lot to get over that hump and get to the state championship game."