PAULS VALLEY — Sulphur was in search of better pitching and defense after it had struggled to throw strikes and botched several defensive plays in Friday’s one-run loss to Pauls Valley.
Enter senior Nick Magruder and junior Daniel Robledo.
Magruder yielded just one run on three hits with one strikeout in Sulphur’s 13-1 rout of winless Ada on Saturday morning. A few hours later, Robledo threw seven strong innings in his first career start, a 6-1 Bulldogs victory over Washington.
In fact, those two pitching performances helped to land Sulphur the Jeff Davis Memorial title.
It came down to the tie-breaker formula.
The first tie-breaker was head-to-head — Sulphur, Madill and Pauls Valley each went 3-1 in the three-day tournament — but since Sulphur and Madill didnt play each other, it went to a second tie-breaker: fewest runs allowed. The Bulldogs allowed nine runs in four games.
“They love playing against Pauls Valley, and we came out a little flat,” Sulphur coach Corey Cole said. “Sometimes, it it not a great thing to turuaround on short notice. The kids got on the bus today and had smiles on their faces. They were ready to play.
“It is the sign of a veteran group: Last night is over, let’s play tonight. It attests to our senior leadership. I’m proud of them.”
Against Washington, Sulphur led 1-0 after three innings, but the Bulldogs wasted other opportunities to score, twice leaving the bases loaded with one out.
Cole Palmer’s two-run single in a three-run fourth for Sulphur helped the Bulldogs to breathe a little easier.
Palmer’s hit put the Bulldogs up 4-0.
As for Robledo, Cole mentioned that he never had to say one word of encouragement to his junior pitcher as he prepared for his first career start.
“He came in a big spot and pitched well,” Cole said. “Daniel is a baseball guy year round. He doesn’t play any other sports. He was ready to go.”
Against Ada, Cole had a high level of confidence in Magruder, and the Sulphur senior rewarded his coach’s faith in him.
“He threw a heck of a game,” Cole said. “He’s jut a gamer. He has won numerous big games in his career since he was a freshman. It doesn’t matter who it is against. He will pound the strike zone. You could tell in the first couple of innings that they were not going to score any runs off Nick.”
Magruder had a perfect day at the plate, as he reached base in all of his at-bats, including a three-RBI performance against Ada, Cole said.
Other Bulldogs joined in the fun.
Christian Gray and Tyler Edgar each drove in three runs. Dawson Muck and Justin Pettifer had two hits apiece.
“Considering all of the things that happened (Friday) night, we didn’t let things affect us,” Cole said. “I preach to the guys all of the time: you lose games, you win games. We won today. I’m proud of them.”
Pauls Valley 7, Sulphur 6
Gray issued a five-pitch, bases-loaded walk to Blaine Knight in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Pauls Valley walked off with a 7-6 victory.
Sulphur starter Cameron Jones struggled to locate his pitches and made it through just 1 2/3 innings. He allowed five runs.
Gray entered in relief of Jones and provided 2 1/3 innings on the mound for the Bulldogs.
“He came and threw the ball well,” Cole said of Gray. “He gave us a chance. Our motto is this: We’re going to throw strikes and play defense. That’s what got us into trouble today. We weren’t throwing strikes and botched some things here and there. When we made a mistake, it escalated into another mistake and some runs.”
Offensively, Sulphur appeared prime to take control of this game before Pauls Valley came up to bat.
The first four Bulldogs reached safely, but Sulphur only got two runs out of that situation: RBI singles by Chase Turner and Palmer.
In the bottom of the first, two consecutive misplayed bunts — both of which resulted in singles for Pauls Valley, the second on a play in which no one covered first base — forced Cole to summon his infielders to the mound for a conference.
Pauls Valley went on to score three runs in the inning to take a one-run lead, and in the second, took advantage of three consecutive walks to increase its advantage to 5-2.
There is no quit in these Bulldogs.
In the top of the third, Palmer ripped a lead-off single through the left side of the infield — a hit ignited a four-run frame for Sulphur. Magruder’s RBI ground-out rallied the Bulldogs into a 6-5 lead.
A controversial call that went against the Bulldogs in the Panthers’ half of the third allowed Pauls Valley to tie the score at 6-6.
An umpire initially ruled that Knight was out at first base on a ground-out. That would have been the second out of the inning, and the Panthers would have had only one base runner. After a conference between the two umpires, the call was overturned, much to the dismay of Cole, who rushed out of the Bulldogs’ dugout to plead his case.
Moments later, Dalton Morse, who led off the inning with an infield single, scored the game-tying run on a passed ball.
“Here’s the deal: I’m one of those to look at it and say that it’s the officials’ fault, because I look back at it, and there’s things that I should have done better this ballgame,” Cole said. “It’s one of those plays, that I think, didn’t go our way. I didn’t agree with it. But we moved on from it. There are other things that cost us in this ballgame.”