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
No. 6 Colbert took advantage of two big innings to beat conference rival Tushka and advance to the semifinals where it will meet defending champion Dale.
The Leopards (27-6) scored four runs in the third inning and six in the fifth behind four errors by the Tigers.
The teams combined for 22 hits and six errors.
No. 4 Tushka (26-7) opened the game on a high note, scoring in the first on Jody Moreland's two-out double.
But Charles Adams tied the game in the second with an RBI double, and Colbert rolled from there.
Kason Krob (8-0) threw five solid innings for the win.
SILO 3, KETCHUM 2
Silo’s Lance House hit a two-run homer in the first inning and drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth as the third-ranked Rebels squeaked out a win in a pitcher’s duel.
Silo senior Justin Hendricks (6-0) threw a complete game, allowing just six hits and striking out four.
His performance overshadowed Ketchum senior Cory Bogle, who allowed just four hits and struck out nine over seven innings.
The Warriors (26-12) had a chance to tie the game in the seventh inning when Triston Pendley walked with two outs and immediately stole second base, but Brock Knoten was thrown out at the plate trying to steal home to end the inning.
House put Silo (30-5) ahead with a two-out RBI single in the fifth.