CLAREMORE — The Claremore '3A' Zebras started out with a bang Saturday afternoon but lost their intensity as the Pryor Tigers rallied to an 8-3 victory in the Three Rivers Tournament finale at Legendary Legion Field.
Claremore built a 2-0 lead in the bottom half of the first inning on Jacob Teague's RBI-single and Bryce Howe's RBI-double off Pryor starting pitcher Zack Hammock.
Claremore catcher Matt Whatley got the first inning going with a bunt single up the third base line and then advanced to second base on Andrew Byington's sacrfice bunt. Whatley would score Claremore's first run on Teague's laser-single to right field to put the Zebras ahead 1-0.
One batter later — Howe — smoked Hammock's fastball to deep left-center field as courtesy runner Dalton Clifton motored around the bases to increase the Zebras' lead to 2-0.
On the mound, Teague coasted through the Pryor lineup in the second and third innings holding the Tigers without a run and a hit.
Both Teague and Hammock dueled in the fourth inning with both pitchers showing great command and composure.
Pryor, however, narrowed the deficit to 2-1 in the top half of the fifth inning with Anthony Martinez drawing a lead-off walk from Teague. After a wild pitch past Claremore catcher (Matt) Whatley that allowed Martinez to advance to second base, Spencer Hinson's sacrifice fly to deep center field plated Pryor's first run.
Martinez tagged up on the fly ball, advanced to third base and then took advantage of an errant throw to home plate to get the Tigers within a run of the Zebras at 2-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, Claremore answered back with a run on a hit to make the score 3-1. Whatley drew the lead-off walk from Hammock and then stole second base before scoring on Byington's RBI-double to the right field corner.
With a 3-1 lead going into the top half of the sixth inning, Claremore coach Dustin Hughes called upon relief pitcher Konnor Dobbins to face the Tigers. Dobbins lasted six batters before giving up five runs on four hits with the Tigers gaining their first lead of the game at 6-3.
Nate Wolfe got the seven-run sixth inning started with a single to left field. Moments later, Brennan Barth and Bradley Nixon loaded the bases with back-to-back singles to left field.
After Dobbins walked Martinez and Wolfe scored from third base to cut the Zebras' lead to 3-2, Casey Holloway drove in Barth to even the score on an RBI-single to right field.
Still with the bases loaded, Hughes pulled Dobbins and brought in Cody Tyre, who gave up a two-run single to Hammock that put Pryor ahead 5-3.
The merry-go-round continued for the Tigers as Hinson laced a single to left field and later scored on Justin Thomas' two-run single to right field with only one out to increase the lead to 8-3.
Tyre got two huge flyouts in the infield to cap off the sixth inning meltdown for Claremore.
Hammock, in a complete game performance, silenced the Claremore bats in the bottom half of the sixth. A strikeout to Cole Weiesnbach and a groundout to Sean Pogue kept the momentum on Pryor's side.
Tyre gave the Zebras a little life by reaching first base on the two-out fielding error by the Pryor shortstop. However, Brandon Varnell's flyout to Pryor second baseman (Casey) Holloway squelched any chances of Claremore rallying in the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, Claremore's defense got two quick outs with Weiesnbach gunning down Barth at first base and Nixon flying out to Clifton at second base.
One batter later, Martinez hammered Tyre's fastball to left-center field for a standup double. The Tigers' chances at increasing their lead ended on Holloway's bunt back to Tyre for the put out at first base.
Down five runs, Claremore headed into the bottom half of the seventh inning with a huge challenge in front of them. Hammock, though, remained calm under pressure and needed only eight pitches to retire the Zebras in order.
Whatley grounded out to shortstop for the first out and was followed by Byington's groundout to first base for the second. Clifton, in his first at-bat, popped out to shallow center field to end the game.
Dobbins suffered the loss for Claremore, giving up five runs on four hits in 1/3 of an inning in the sixth.
Claremore starting pitcher (Jacob) Teague recorded the no-decision after tossing five complete innings with one hit, eight strikeouts and five walks.
Hammock picked up the victory for Pryor, going all seven innings and allowing three runs on five hits with four strikeouts and three walks.
Note: The 3A American Legion State Tournament will be played Thursday through Saturday at Legendary Legion Field and in Collinsville. The first game on Thursday will start at 2 p.m.