A 7-run fifth inning got the Indians past Sentinel in the Class B quarterfinals on Friday
EDMOND – For a team that relies heavily on a powerful offense, four shutout innings and a 1-0 deficit in their Class B state quarterfinal against Sentinel was enough to make the Asher Indians and their fans plenty nervous.
The Indians, however, found their groove just in time, getting some timely hits and taking advantage of a handful of Bulldog errors to score seven runs in the fifth inning and advance to Saturday’s semifinals with a 7-2 win at Edmond Memorial High School.
Asher (24-7) will play Dover, an 8-2 winner over Lookeba-Sickles, in the semifinals on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Dolese Park in Oklahoma City.
“We don’t really have a panic button,” Asher head coach Shane Coker said. “But five innings is a long time for us to not have any runs. But at the same time we know at some point we’re going to get something.”
The Bulldogs (20-11) took advantage of some early struggles from Asher starter Tanner Andrews to get a run in the bottom of the first inning. An infield hit by Sentinel’s Brock Carter plus a throwing error put the leadoff hitter in scoring position. A pair of walks and a pair of strikeouts followed before Yeider Perez lined a single to left field to score Carter with the game’s first run.
Sentinel starter Adrian Elston made that run stand up for the next three innings, keeping the Indians off-balance and holding them to just a pair of baserunners until the fifth.
“He had pinpoint location; he spotted it up,” Coker said of Elston. “He had a little off-speed pitch and was in and out and hitting his spots. We started pressing a little bit and started swinging at balls out of the zone and hitting a lot of pop ups.”
That all changed in a hurry in the top of the fifth. Sean Fleming and Colby Carpenter led off the inning with base hits. George Merchain followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt, but Elston’s throw to third sailed into the outfield and scoring Fleming and Carpenter with the tying and go-ahead runs.
Two batters later, Tim Johnson drove in Merchain with a double to right field to make it 3-1. After Andrews was intentionally walked, Trucker Lee doubled to left field for two more runs.
A pair of walks and three wild pitches followed, the first one on a third strike to Hunter Fowler, scored another run, and Carpenter completed the scoring with his second hit of the inning, driving in Fowler with the seventh and final run.
On the mound, Andrews would settle down after the first inning, allowing one hit over the next four innings and finishing with 12 strikeouts in five innings of work before Johnson finished the final two innings in relief.
“He was very effective,” Coker said of Andrews. “We’ve probably seen a first inning like that before, but once he finds it, you can really see he’s got it. I could see his body language and he let a lot of fastballs go where he didn’t know where they were going. That’s rare for him.”
Johnson allowed one run when Carter doubled in the seventh to drive in Chase Johnson.
Because of Thursday’s rain that cancelled play, both the semifinals and finals will be played on Saturday. Olustee will face Red Oak in the first semifinal at 1:30 p.m., followed by Asher-Dover. The championship game will immediately follow at approximately 6:30 p.m.