EDMOND – After Zac Wall recorded the final out of an extra-inning win in the Class 4A state semifinals Friday night at Edmond Santa Fe High School, his thoughts turned to Justin Tiderman, who would have been in Tuttle’s 2014 senior class.
Justin and his father, Mike, an Oklahoma City fireman, died in an automobile accident returning from a youth baseball game exactly seven years to the day the Tigers will play No. 3 Dewey for the state title at 5 p.m. Saturday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
“I know Justin was looking down over us,” Wall said. “He died on May 17th, the exact date we’re playing for the title. There’s no doubt in my mind he would have been the backbone of this team.”
The No. 1-ranked Tigers (32-7) advanced to the finals by recording a 3-2 nine-inning win over No. 8 Catoosa on Friday night.
Wall surrendered an RBI double to Nick Brown, the first batter he faced, but struck out the final two hitters to send Tuttle to the finals.
“When Justin passed away in the fifth grade he was, by far, the best player from this class,” Wall said. “He already was throwing in the low 70s (mph). This is surreal. It’s setting up the way it should since the anniversary will be the day of the championship game.”
Tied 1-1 through seven innings, Tuttle scored two runs in the top of the ninth, but the Indians answered with a run off Tigers sophomore Ethan Moody, who surrendered two runs on five hits in 81/3 innings.
“Ethan pitched against Owasso and Jenks and barely lost to them and beat (Class 4A No. 2) Weatherford,” said Tuttle coach Travis Austin. “I think he’s as good a No. 2 as anybody. He’s going to be a big-time pitcher.”
The bottom of the order scored all three runs for Tuttle. Right fielder Connor Fryrear, the No. 9 hitter, is 4-for-7 at state and accounted for three of Tuttle’s five hits in Friday’s semifinal win.
“I can’t describe how great it feels to be playing for the state title,” Fryrear said. “At state, you need everyone to pick up their game from the top of the lineup all the way to the bottom.”