WARNER — Twelve years to the day, Jared Webster finally got his revenge.
Webster, who just this past week accepted a job on Victor Paden’s coaching staff at Eufaula, saw his Oklahoma Navy team pull out a hard earned 3-2 nine inning victory over the defending Class 4A state champion Hilldale Hornets in the finals of the 12th Annual Heartland All-Star Classic at Connors State College’s Biff Thompson field Sunday afternoon.
It was back in 2001 that Webster, in his first year as an assistant coach at Gore, lost to Hilldale coach Darren Riddle in the inaugural Heartland championship game.
“I remember that Coach Riddle had Nathan Frisby on his team, who is now his assistant at Hilldale,” Webster said. “We lost that game but I remember what a good time I had. And that’s what I’ve tried to give to my players in the 12 years I’ve coached in this tournament.”
Riddle remembered that first battle.
“We went up to Ozark, Mo.,” he said. “I’ll say this about Jared Webster. He knows more about Hilldale than I do. He’s a walking mathematician and I’m not being a smart aleck. He’s just simply intelligent.”
The 2012 game was a classic pitching duel between Devin Riede, who pitched a five inning no hitter on Friday for Hilldale, and Wagoner’s Justin Ferrell for Navy. The hard-throwing Ferrell struck out 10 of the first 16 hitters he faced, keeping the Hornets scoreless through the first five innings. But Riede, with solid defense behind him, was equal to the task and held Navy without a run.
The Hornets finally broke through in the sixth inning.
Isaac Isham started it off with a base hit. He was sacrificed to second by Matt Bargsten and advanced to third on a wild pitch. After a walk to Hunter Harrison, Bryatt Alexander executed a safety squeeze bunt to perfection, scoring Isham. Ferrell then struck out Scott Rodden and Derek Altman to limit the damage.
Navy tied it up in the home half of the sixth on a single by Corky Roberts, a sacrifice bunt, a ground out to second base and an RBI single by Darren McGowan. It had a chance to win it in regulation with a leadoff single, sacrifice bunt and an error by left fielder Justin Sanders that put runners at second and third with one out. But Riede struck out Ferrell and enticed Brody Clay to ground out to send the game into extra innings.
BJ Morris took over the Navy pitching duties from Ferrell to start the eighth. With one out, Bargsten got aboard with a single and went to second on a walk to Harrison. Both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Alexander and Rodden drove home the lead run with a single, sending Harrison to third.
With Altman at the plate, Rodden promptly stole second. Altman then sent a low line drive to left field that Navy’s Colby Rankin dove after. The base umpire ruled that Rankin made the catch, much to chagrin of Riddle, who complained vehemently to both umpires that Rankin had trapped the ball.
“I saw a trap, and I think everyone did,” Riddle said. “The kid made a great play to get to it and it hurt us. But like I told the kids afterward, it’s part of the game.”
As Navy batted in the eighth, now down 2-1, Riede retired the leadoff batter but gave up a walk to Roberts. Riddle then brought in Harrison — who was 10-1 overall and the winning pitcher for Hilldale in the state championship game this spring — to relieve Riede.
Ricky Hosack greeted Harrison with a base hit, then Zeke Dougan walked to load the bases. Roberts scored the tying run on a ground out to short. But Harrison escaped further damage by getting Morris to ground out leaving the scored tied at 2-2.
After the Hornets went down in order in the ninth, Harrison hit Navy leadoff man Eric Kirkpatrick with a pitch and then Keelan Henderson became the hero for Navy with a drive to the wall in center that scored the winning run from first.
Riede scattered nine hits in seven plus innings.
“I was able to mix my pitches pretty well and keep them off balance,” said the senior-to-be. “But the guys were solid behind me all day to help keep the score down.”
Navy starter and Connors signee Ferrell fanned 17 in his seven innings of work and had to battle another problem besides the heat and the Hornets.
“I had my wisdom teeth pulled Thursday and I’ve got about 20 stitches in my mouth so that kind of bothered me as the day went along,” he said. “My fastball was great in the early going but I had to rely on my breaking pitches more as the game went on.”
Riddle was pleased with the group that will defend the Hornets’ first baseball state title next spring.
“We had young kids step up in key situations,” Riddle said. “We had five wins and four run-rule wins against some pretty good arms out here.”
But with the powerful Ontario (Canada) Blue Jays, who’ve won every tournament since it moved to Muskogee to 2008 — expected to return to the tournament next year, it may be another 12 years before Riddle and Brewer have a chance to break their managerial tie.
Heartland Classic scores
At Bacone College
Purple 16, Gold 2
Royal 15, Black 8
At Hilldale HS
Green 17, Orange 3
Hilldale 11, Maroon 3
At Connors State
White 10, Teal 1
Navy 4, Red 1
Navy 3, Hilldale 2 (9 innings)