SHAWNEE — Norman North coach Brian Aylor waited to celebrate until he was sure.
Timberwolves left fielder Tyler Bottoms drifted toward the gap in left-center and pulled in Tulsa Kelley's Sean Votan's liner to give Norman North a 4-3 win to open the Class 6A state baseball tournament at Ed Skelton Field.
"Even after he caught it, I wasn't sure," Aylor said. "Off the bat, I thought he had it, but then he started drifting and I was thinking about what I was going to tell my team in the dugout going to the bottom half."
With two runners on, the Comets would've taken the lead if the ball would've dropped.
Instead, the Timberwolves (26-8) advance to play Yukon at 4 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
Broken Arrow and Edmond North will play at 11 a.m. at Deer Creek in a game that was rained out Thursday night. The winner will take on Owasso at 6:30 p.m. in the other semifinal at Shawnee. There will be no admission charge to the Broken Arrow-Edmond North game.
Norman North trailed 3-1 going into the fifth before the bottom part of the order started a rally and Nick Basquine and Daniel Herron delivered back-to-back RBI triples to tie the game and put the Timberwolves out front.
“In the fifth, I pulled them together and asked, ‘Is this it? Is this how our story ends? You've got a huge crowd here waiting to explode. Let's give them a reason to,” Aylor said.
Austin Cranford came on in relief in the fourth and worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out five.
Cranford appeared to be cruising in the seventh, retiring the first two batters quickly before Charlie Wrona singled and Cranford walked Josh Hassell to give the Comets a chance to retake the lead.
"When his slider's on, he's almost unhittable," Aylor said. "There are some guys the pressure just doesn't get to them, and he's one of those guys."
Ryan McDaniel and Bottoms had two hits each for the Timberwolves.