DALE – The Dale Pirates beat Wellston 11-8 Saturday to win their regional title in Class 2A and advance to next weekend's state tournament. Dale shutout Wellston and Watonga Friday to find themselves one win from a return to state and Wellston beat Tonkawa to face Dale in the title game.
Blake McQuain had a rough day on the mound due in part to a sore on his throwing hand and was replaced after loading the bases in the top of the fourth and giving up two runs to put Wellston ahead 5-2.
“He's got a blood blister right on the end of his index finger,” coach Jerry Sanford said. “He didn't say anything so I didn't know. He finally told me about the fifth or the sixth after I had taken him out.”
Bryce Craword came in to relieve McQuain and struck out his first batter faced to close out the top frame.
Drew Reed singled in the bottom of the fourth to score McQuain and Gant Hathcock and tighten Wellston's lead.
Crawford singled to reach base in the fifth and was replaced on the bags by Ike Shirey, who scored on a wild pitch to tie things up. Reed took a walk with bases loaded to bring home Hathcock and take a 6-5 lead and the Pirates rallied with five runs in the sixth to add a six run cushion.
McQuain and Scout Capps each singled to drive in a run and David Herring reached on an error to score Dallon Forsythe running for Austin Custar. Herring scored on a passed ball and Reed sacrificed to bring in McQuain.
Wellston pulled together three runs in the seventh as Jonathon Johnson replaced Crawford to close things out.
Herring, McQuain and Hathcock had two hits apiece, Reed drove in four runs and McQuain brought home three.
The Pirates left the bases loaded four times. Sanford said a lack of concentration led to not getting more runs home.
“You've gotta be focused to win this game,” he said. “You can't come in and win it with your mind not in it all the way. You just can't do it... You're not displined when you're not getting those runs scored.”
Crawford earned the win with 3 2/3 innings pitched in relief. He struck out four, walked two and allowed three earned runs.
“He came in and got us back in it and got to slam the door on them... he did a good job early, he put out the fire,” Sanford said.
Johnson earned the save to give up one hit and strike out one. McQuain gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings pitched and struck out two as the starter.
The Pirates went through three Wellston pitchers.
Dale will enter their fourth straight state tournament since beating Silo for the title in 2014. They finished runner-up to Silo last year.
“Three more wins, we'll see. We get to play one more anyway,” Sanford said.