Ledgend Smith made Binger-Oney coach Reggie Willits’ faith in his freshman pay off Thursday afternoon.
Smith went the distance for the Bobcats on the mound and came up with two key hits to help Binger-Oney to a 6-2 win over Ripley in the opening round of the Class A state baseball tournament at Palmer Field at Dolese Park.
Binger-Oney advances to play either Rattan or Navajo at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
Even though Willits had faith in Smith, he still did plenty of wondering how the freshman would react to the situation.
“You’re never really sure what you’re going to get,” Willits said.
Willits got his answer pretty quick, after Smith gave up a two-run home run in the third.
After walking the next batter, Smith settled back into a rhythm, and no Ripley runner made it past first base again until there was just one out left in the seventh.
“He’s not really scared of anything,” Willits said.
Smith helped himself in the first with a two-run, two-out double. In the third, Smith added an RBI single as Binger-Oney (25-10) scored all of its runs in the first three innings.
Sterling 2, Pioneer 1
Sterling pitcher Tucker White was perfect through five innings.
But the decision to lift him to save White’s arm for later in the tournament nearly turned disastrous for the Tigers.
Reliever Garrett Curry extended the perfect game to two outs in the seventh before Colby Koontz roped a no-doubt hit into the gap in right center, and Patrick Williams followed with an RBI double to to put the tying run on second.
But Curry was able to fight out of the jam, getting Carter Postier to fly out to shallow center to end the game and give Sterling the win.
Sterling took the lead in the first, taking advantage of an error to score on Dillon Wright’s groundout. They added another in the fifth on White’s RBI groundout.
Outside of that, Pioneer starter Skyler Bartel was fantastic, allowing just three hits in seven innings.