Hunt settles down on mound, lifts Dale over Hartshorne

Brian Johnson
Shawnee News-Star, USA TODAY NETWORK
Dale right-hander Carson Hunt (3) fires a pitch against Hartshorne Thursday in the first round of the Class 2A State Baseball Tournament at Dolese Park in Oklahoma City.
Dale's Ike Shirey singles up the middle against Hartshorne Thursday.
Dale second baseman Connor Kuykendall fields the ball on the slide against Hartshorne Thursday at Dolese Park in Oklahoma City.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Carson Hunt was a model in the midst of friction Thursday afternoon in the first round of the Class 2A State Baseball Tournament at Dolese Park.

After issuing two walks and a hit batsman to start the game, the senior right-hander showed poise, allowing just one earned run off one hit through six innings as the Dale Pirates outlasted the Hartshorne Miners 4-2.

Hunt issued the three passes to load the bases before Hartshorne's John Beauchamp hit a sacrifice fly to deep left field for a 1-0 Hartshorne advantage.

From there, Hunt allowed the one hit and struck out eight. He ended up giving up five walks, but only two of those came after the first inning.

“I can't say enough about Carson. He gutted it out,” said Dale head coach Eddie Jeffcoat. “He didn't have his best stuff, but he worked his butt off to get out of the first (inning). He was able to go late and let Ike (Shirey) finish it up (on the mound and in relief in the seventh). It was a gutsy performance by Carson.”

Shirey, in working the seventh, retired the side with the first two batters going down on strikeouts.

The Pirates, who were scheduled to play Christian Heritage in the semifinals Friday afternoon at Dolese Park, compiled nine hits, but stranded nine runners in the game.

“We didn't hit great, but we did some things that cost us offensively,” Jeffcoat said. “We left a lot of runners on. When you got chances to score, you've got to take advantage. We can't let them off the hook.”

Fueling the Dale offense were a trio of Pirates in Cade Capps, Cole Capps and Shirey with two hits apiece.

Cade Capps went 2-for-2 with an RBI bunt-single in the second and a run-scoring single through the left side of the infield in the third as he later drew a walk in the fifth. Cole Capps was 2-for-3 with a pair of singles and Shirey ended up 2-for-4 with a leadoff single in the first and double in the sixth.

Cade McQuain also helped the Pirate offense with a run-scoring double in the third.

After the Miners went up 1-0, Dale tied it in the bottom of the second when Cole Capps led off with his first single, moved up to second on Tate Rector's groundout and scored off Cade Capps' single down the left-field line.

Hartshorne snatched a 2-1 edge in the third when Bryson Cervantes singled to center for the Miners' only hit of the game. A stolen base and error on the same play got Cervantes to third as he ultimately scored off a wild pitch.

However, the Pirates tallied a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to go on top for good, 3-2.

Hunt walked with one out. McQuain later drove home a run with a rocket to right-center for a double to tie it up at 2-2. Cole Capps' single advanced McQuain to third as Capps ended up at second base on the same play. Three batters later, Cade Capps singled through the left side of the infield.

Dale picked up its fourth and final run off a passed ball in the fourth inning.

The Pirates were solid defensively as Shirey robbed Hartshorne's Trent Clunn of a base hit in the fifth as he fielded a bouncer to his right and in one motion flung the ball to first base, just getting Clunn for the out.

Conner Kuykendall, playing second base for Dale, made a sliding grab and fired the ball to first base for the third out of the second inning, robbing Bo Wilkett of a potential hit.