Preston’s 11-1 victory ends 17-year fall baseball drought
The Preston Pirate varsity fall baseball team will make their first state tournament appearance since 2005 this Thursday following an 11-1 victory over the Canute Trojans last Friday evening.
The double-digit win for the Pirates came in the runner-up finals of the Class A regional tournament at Wister High School.
The Pirates (ranked 7th in Class A) will open state tournament play Thursday at 11 a.m. against the top-ranked Oktaha Tigers at Edmond Memorial High School in Edmond.
A win over the Tigers will put the Preston squad into Friday’s semifinal round at 11 a.m. at Edmond Memorial against the winner of sixth-ranked Dale and fifth-ranked Silo, who will square off in a 2022 state championship rematch Thursday at 1:30 p.m., while a loss to Oktaha will bring the Pirates’ fall baseball season to a close.
The Class A state championship game is slated for Saturday at 12:05 p.m. at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
The last time the Pirates appeared in the fall baseball state tournament, they were on the losing end of an 11-1 decision to the Byng Pirates in the first round.
The Preston squad began their journey towards ending their 17-year fall baseball state tournament drought last Thursday with an opening-round 6-2 win over the 10th-ranked Amber-Pocasset Panthers. The Pirates’ bid for the regional championship was denied with an 11-5 loss to the second-ranked, and tournament host, Wister Wildcats in the regional championship game.
The loss to Wister put the Preston squad into the regional consolation finals against unranked Canute, who rebounded from a 12-0, opening- round, loss to Wister last Thursday by defeating Amber-Pocasset by a 7-4 margin in the loser’s bracket finals to begin last Friday’s tournament action.
In last Thursday’s opening-round win over Amber-Pocasset, the Pirates broke a scoreless tie with four runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Amber-Pocasset tallied its first run of the contest in the top of the fifth, while Preston made it a 6-1 contest with a pair of runs in the home half of the sixth.
The Panthers were only able to push across one run in their final at-bat in the top of the seventh to award the Pirates the 6-2, opening-round, win.
Bradley Winford was the top offensive performer for Preston in the opening-round contest, finishing 2 for 3 with a pair of singles.
The other Pirate base hits in the narrow win came on singles by Jayden Herring and Kellen Dean, an RBI single by Luke Hankins, and a Grand Slam home run in the fourth by Braxton Kennedy.
Other Preston baserunners against Amber-Pocasset were Herring (2 walks), Kaden Dean (2 walks), Easton Shaw (walk), Hunter McElhannon (error), and Noah Wilson (walk). Kaden Dean drove in one of the two Preston runs in the sixth with an RBI groundout.
Shaw got the start on the mound for the Pirates and went the distance to earn the pitching win. The senior right-hander gave up two runs on five hits, striking out seven, walking three, and hitting two in seven innings of work.
In last Thursday’s regional title game against Wister, the host Wildcats opened the scoring with two runs in the home half of the second, then added four in the third and two in the fourth for an 8-0 advantage after four innings of action.
The Pirates broke up the shutout bid with two runs in the top of the fifth.
After Wister made it a 9-2 contest with a run in the bottom of the fifth, the Preston squad cut the deficit to four, 9-5, with three runs in the top of the sixth.
The host Wildcats tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, then kept the Pirates off the scoreboard in the top of the seventh to hand the Preston squad the 11-5 setback.
The Pirates were held to just four base hits in the loss – singles by Kaden Dean, Luke Hankins, and Easton Shaw and an RBI single by Kellen Dean.
Other baserunners for Preston against Wister were Bradley Winford (walk), Hunter McElhannon (walk), Braxton Kennedy (walk), and Noah Wilson (2-run fielder’s choice, walk). McElhannon drove in one of the three Preston runs in the sixth with an RBI groundout.
Kellen Dean was saddled with the pitching loss for the Pirates, allowing six runs on three hits with six walks, three strikeouts, and three hit batters in two and two-third innings of work.
Kennedy worked one and one-third innings of relief for the Pirates in the contest, giving up two runs on two hits, striking out two and walking one.
Jayden Herring entered out of the bullpen at the start of the fifth, allowing three runs on one hit with one walk, one strikeout, and two hit batters in one and two-third innings of relief work.
Pepper Gallup went the final onethird of an inning in relief, giving up one hit, while striking out one, walking one, and hitting a batter.
In Friday’s consolation title contest, the Pirates tallied a run in each of the first three innings for a 3-0 advantage.
Canute pushed across its lone run in the bottom of the third, while the Preston squad made it a 5-1 contest with a run in each of the fifth and sixth innings.
The Pirates erupted for six runs in the top of the seventh to put the finishing touches on their 11-1 victory and punching their first trip to the fall baseball state tournament since 2005.
Kaden Dean went the distance on the mound for Preston to earn the pitching win in the double-digit victory. The sophomore hurler allowed one run on six hits, striking out five, walking five, and hitting a batter in seven innings of work.
The Preston offense was led by the trio of Kaden Dean (2 for 4, 2 singles, 2 RBIs), Luke Hankins (2 for 4, 2 singles, RBI), and Kellen Dean (2 for 4, double, triple, 2 RBIs) with two hits apiece.
The other four Pirate base hits in the win over Canute came on singles by Braxton Kennedy and Noah Wilson, RBI double by Jayden Herring, and 2-run double by Bradley Winford.
Other Preston baserunners in the consolaton finals win were Hankins (hit by pitch, error), Kennedy (error), Wilson (walk, hit by pitch), Kaden Dean (RBI walk), Kellen Dean (walk), Easton Shaw (2 errors), and Hunter McElhannon (2 errors).
— Class A Regional Tournament First Round
Preston 6, Amber-Pocasset 2
Am-Po: 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 1 – 0 – 1 2-5-1 Preston:0-0-0-4-0-2-x 6-6-1 WP: Easton Shaw LP: Riley HR: Amber-Pocasset: Schwartz; Preston: Braxton Kennedy — Championship
Wister 11, Preston 5
Preston:0-0-0-0-2-3-0 5-4-2 Wister: 0-2-4-2-1-2-x 11 – 7 – 0 WP: Donaho LP: Kellen Dean HR: None — Runner-up Championship Preston 11, Canute 1
Preston:1-1-1-0-1-1-6 11 – 10 – 0 Canute: 0-0-1-0-0-0-0 1 – 6 – 10 WP: Kaden Dean LP: Randall HR: None