EDMOND — Jimmy Wood knew this time would come for Noble.
After reaching the state baseball tournament for the first time since 1996, Noble defeated Deer Creek 3-2 in the Class 5A quarterfinals — giving the Bears their first state tournament victory since a semifinal win 17 years ago.
“This means everything to us,” Wood said. “When I got here as a sophomore we started working for this. I remember looking at the class behind me and knowing we would be here.
“It took us a couple years, but we're here and we're for real.”
Wood — the Bears' only senior — went 2-for-4 at the plate, driving in all three Noble runs with a pair of doubles.
He was equally as impressive on the mound. He struck out six and surrendered just one hit over 4 2/3 shutout innings in relief of starter Derek Underwood.
“I just wanted to do it for all my boys,” Wood said. “I think we have the best defense in the state, and it's really easy to pitch with that behind you.”
Wood opened the scoring with a two-out, two-RBI double in the top of the second. But Deer Creek (26-9) answered quickly with two runs in the third inning to tie the game. The Antlers threatened to take the lead with the bases loaded and just one out.
That's when Noble (33-4) turned to Wood, as the senior came in to get back-to-back strikeouts and leave the bases loaded.
“He (Wood) is the type of kid that has the mentality to come into tight situations and not let the pressure get to him,” Noble coach Brad Anglin said. “When our starters have struggled, he's maintained that relief role for us.”
Noble caught a tough break in the sixth inning when a leadoff double by Corey Jennings was erased after Deer Creek successfully appealed that Jennings had failed to touch first base.
The Bears weren't fazed, picking up another leadoff hit an inning later to start the seventh with a single from Braden Buol. Two batters later, Wood came through again, driving in Buol with a double and giving Noble the lead for good.
“We had the leadoff double and got called out, but the key was we responded to that well,” Anglin said. “The one thing we definitely do is play with a lot of confidence no matter what.”
Noble will play Carl Albert at 4 p.m. in the semifinals on Friday.