EDMOND — It was as good as advertised. And then some.
In a game billed as a showdown of not just two of the best baseball teams in the state but also two of the best pitchers in the state, nobody disappointed.
Not Edmond Santa Fe, not Deer Creek. Not Wolves' star Clayton Blackburn and not Antlers' hurler Michael Fulmer.
A Blackburn RBI sacrifice fly proved to be the difference in the top of the first inning to give Santa Fe a 1-0 win at Deer Creek on Saturday afternoon.
Blackburn, an Oklahoma signee, was given an 80-pitch limit by coach Lonny Cobble. Blackburn made the most out of it. He threw six innings, struck out 11 and gave up just two hits.
“It was a lot of fun,” Blackburn said. “This game was built up a lot, and it was fun to go out there and show people what I have. He's (Fulmer) a great pitcher, too.”
Santa Fe's Kyle Shaw struck out the side in the seventh inning to earn the save.
The game was a gutsy call by both coaches. The Wolves, ranked third in 6A, have positioned themselves once again as the best 6A team in the west and a legitimate state championship contender. Any question about that has been answered this month with wins against Norman North and a victory last weekend at top-ranked Broken Arrow.
Deer Creek, meanwhile, entered Saturday with a 21-game winning streak and is ranked No. 1 in 5A. The Antlers (27-5) had not lost to an in-state opponent the entire season. But neither coach was second-guessing their decision to play Saturday.
“You want to see quality competition this time of year,” Deer Creek coach Ron Moore said. “These are the type of guys you're going to see — and going to have to beat — in the state tournament. Clayton is the best guy we've seen, but I'm sure they'll say Michael was one of the best they've seen.”
Fulmer, an Arkansas signee, closed out the game by retiring 10 of the last 11 batters and had 11 strikeouts. There were no walks in the entire game.
Santa Fe's Kyle Lacy hit a one-out triple in the top of the first. Blackburn drove him in on the sacrifice fly, and the pitchers did the rest.
Blackburn (8-1) struck out seven consecutive batters at one point.
“I went away from my fastball too much in my last start,” Blackburn said. “I was able to stay in control today.”
Both Deer Creek and Santa Fe (31-5) are hosting regionals this week.
“When we scheduled this game, it was about getting ready for regionals,” Cobble said. “Based on today's effort, I think we accomplished what we were looking to do.”