EDMOND — The Jones Longhorns' plan of riding Blake Estep and Taylor Bilyeu to a Class 3A baseball title is working so far.
Estep escaped two bases-loaded jams in a democratic five-hit shutout Thursday that sent Jones into the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Marlow.
It's Bilyeu's turn Friday. He'll start the 1:30 p.m. semifinal against the Tulsa Metro Christian, with Estep available to start Saturday's final game on a day's rest if needed.
Together, Estep (11-0) and Bilyeu (8-0) are undefeated in their last 38 decisions. Estep kept that streak alive Friday with a gutty 80-minute outing backed by every teammate toting a glove.
The Class 3A opener could have lasted a lot longer, and probably should have.
Jones (30-2) reached Marlow starter Wakely Bergner for just two hits — one on a bunt — and scored two unearned runs in the second when Chris Humphrey's sharp grounder slipped past first baseman Wesley Coast.
Jones fielded flawlessly, each Longhorn making at least one play. Shortstop Andrew Hertzer twice made nifty stops in the fifth to keep a lid on Marlow's most serious threat, turning a diving stop of Coast's grounder up the middle into a force out.
Humphrey, the Jones catcher, picked off a runner at first. And Longhorn outfielders got the most action with eight putouts — five by centerfielder Tyler Seabolt.
Estep wasn't bad himself. He confessed to struggling with the plate umpire's strike zone in the early innings. Six of Marlow's first 10 batters reached safely, three on walks.
“It was tight,” Estep said. “But the strike zone should be tight at state.”
He walked Kelby Richardson to load the bases with two out in the second before striking out Coast.