Julian Love hit a pair of booming two-run homers and Kage Zeller and Boux DeLong provided strong pitching as MacArthur beat Oklahoma Bishop McGuinness, 6-2, Saturday to claim the championship in the 47th Annual Bo Bowman Invitational.
From the outset of the event on Thursday the Irish and Highlanders were the teams most everyone expected to play for the title and they showed fans plenty of reasons why that was the case.
McGuinness had beaten Fletcher (18-0), and Altus (11-2) to reach the finals while Mac beat Walters, 2-0, and Cache 10-5 to coast into the finals.
Before the title game started Cache beat Big Pasture, 12-0, to claim third.
The Irish got the lead early at 2-0 but Mac came back with a pair of runs of its own on a hit, walk and double steal that the Irish threw wild at second and allowed the first run to score. With the bases loaded Mac’s Thatcher Zeller earned a bases-loaded walk to bring home Carlos Clark with the tying run.
Neither team scored in the fourth but in the top of the fifth Love caught a fastball chest high and sent it soaring over the fence in left to bring home Zeller as well for a 4-2 lead.
Mac’s defense took over in the bottom of the fifth as the Highlanders were able to catch an Irish runner trying to score on an infield bouncer but DeLong, who was playing third, made a great throw to stop the runner in rundown and get the tag for the first out. An infield fly ball got the second out and Mac was able to get another ground ball to end that threat.
In the bottom of the sixth Zellar enticed the first batter to hit a routine ground ball then the next two batters flied out to move the game to the seventh.
The Highlanders were unable to get much going at first but when Bryce Kaulity earned a walk that brought Love to the plate again with a goal to extend the lead.
He worked the count to his favor and on a 2-2 pitch he caught another fastball and sent it over the fence in left. The ball was definitely over the fence but it was tough to see whether it was foul or fair in the fading sunlight. The home plate umpire made the call and Love came around to score and extend the lead to 6-3 much to the displeasure of the McGuinness fans.
The Irish got out of the jam and went to work to try and even things up but this time it was DeLong on the mound.
“We’ve done that with Boux because we need to keep him eligible for Monday and Tuesday district games,” head coach Rodney DeLong said. “He is going to bring two pitches at you; fastback and slider, and he can surprise you.”
Zellar did his part earlier, throwing well throughout the game.
“Zeller throws around 84 or 85 and he’s been tough all season,” DeLong said. “He lost a tough 3-2 game to Carl Albert but he’s pitched well.”
Love’s bat just keeps getting stronger.
“I thought that guy was going to throw a middle-inside fastball and I felt like if I could get good contact I had a chance to hit one,” Love said. “The other one was a fastball too.”
Coach DeLong said Love has been dependable all season.
“He’s been getting stronger and stronger and he caught those two today,” the coach said. “We just needed to get a couple of runs on the board because we’ve been consistent on defense and pitching. Zellar has been around 1:03 with his ERA and IU expect this outing will lower it more.”
The game right before the title game was another Apache-Walters battle as Apache used a two-run double to get the Warriors ahead as the earned a 5-3 victory.
“Nick Lindsay had a huge hit there for us that scored a run and Jeff Upton pitched the the entire game for us,” Apache Coach Larry Pachoddy said. “He doesn’t overpower you; he just throws strikes and finds way to get you out.”