Staked with a 2-0 lead before even taking the mound, Caney Valley senior Kyle Knight did what ace pitchers are expected to do.
The big right-hander delivered seven strong innings Friday afternoon in the Class 2A state baseball tournament at Palmer Field in Dolese Park to lead the 11th-ranked Trojans in a 4-2 upset of No. 2 Latta.
“It was huge,” Knight said about the early lead. “It was very huge. My teammates told me to throw the ball and they'll do the rest, and that's what I did.”
The Trojans will face Silo in Friday's semifinal at 1:30 p.m. in Shawnee.
Caney Valley (23-5) is making its first ever appearance in the state baseball tournament and it comes in just its first season in Class 2A.
Latta (25-7) has a total of 12 state championships in the fall and spring.
But that never intimidated the Trojans.
Junior Tristen Gagan crushed a two-run homer to left field in the top of the first off Brandon Mills to give Caney Valley a lead it would never relinquish.
And Knight, who has signed with Eastern Oklahoma State College, was a big reason for that. He held Latta (25-7) to just three hits and two runs, while working around four errors and striking out eight.
“He just kept getting stronger,” Caney Valley coach Shayne Cramer said.
Caney Valley added two more runs in the second when Drake Hines scored on a wild pitch, and Abram Gann drove in a run with a single.
Jake Collins had two run-scoring singles for the Panthers.
Colbert 12, Tushka 5