SHAWNEE — Dale senior Hunter Pinkston and his teammates were doing what they do best on Friday, winning baseball games.
The Pirates advanced to the Class 2A state championship game for the fourth consecutive spring season with a 12-5 win over Hennessey at Ed Skelton Field in Shawnee.
Pinkston led the way, driving in three runs and recording the final seven outs on the mound to earn the save.
“This is what we do, play baseball,” said Pinkston, who had two strikeouts and surrendered just one hit in 22/3 innings pitched. “We’ve been focused all year on getting to the ‘ship and now we’ve got to go win it.’”
Dale (29-8) struck first in the bottom of the second with a Gage Ross sacrifice fly to score Pinkston. Lane Cox followed with a RBI double to score Xavier Lanham, who also reached with a double.
Tanner Nelson, Gunnar Hathcock, and Chase Byndas led off the third with three consecutive bunt singles, setting up a five-run inning to put Dale in front 7-0.
Hennessey answered in the fourth with a double by Matt Mills, an error, two walks, a passed ball, and a balk allowed the Eagles to plate three in the frame.
One inning later back-to-back walks set up a two-RBI double from Tabor Johns to cut the Dale lead to three.
But Hennessey wouldn’t get any closer as senior Dalton Tillison homered in the fifth for Dale, and the Pirates added three more in the sixth before Pinkston set down the side in order to finish the victory.
“I just trust all my teammates,” Pinkston said. “I’m out there trying to throw strikes and let them hit it, because I trust my teammates behind me. At the plate, I have a lot of chances to drive in runs because those guys are getting on in front of me.”
Hennessey (27-13) was led by the senior Mills, who went 2 for 3.
Silo 8, Mangum 7
Defending 2A state champion Silo escaped an upset-minded Mangum squad behind a three-run seventh and a game-ending double play to win 8-7 in the semifinals on Friday.
Senior Leonard Sandler provided a clutch two-RBI single in the final at bat for Silo (34-1) as the Rebels pushed their one-run lead to four.
In the bottom half of the inning, Mangum (34-4) loaded the bases before senior Ty Smith cleared them with a three-RBI double to bring the winning run to the plate.
After an error allowed the game-clinching run to reach first with one out, junior pitcher Andrew Bolin fielded a comebacker and threw to second to start a double play (1-6-3) to end it.
Silo will face Dale in the championship on Saturday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. First pitch is set for 11 a.m.