For the first time since 2016, the Preston Pirate varsity spring baseball team will be making an appearance at the Class 2A state baseball championships.
The Pirates punched their ticket to State with a 10-8 victory over the Vian Wolverines this past Saturday evening at the Jim Waller Sports Complex in Preston.
The narrow win came in the finals of the Class 2A regional baseball championships.
Preston is scheduled to begin their first state tournament participation in seven years this Thursday, traveling to Edmond for a first-round showdown with the topranked and defending state champion Silo Rebels at 11 a.m. at Edmond Santa Fe High School.
A win over the defending champs will put the Pirates into Friday’s semifinals at 11 a.m. against the winner of Thursday’s opening-round battle between fifth-ranked Calera and fourth-ranked Wister.
The Preston diamond squad began their journey towards the regional championship with a 17-1 rout of the Hulbert Riders this past Friday. The Pirates moved into the winner’s bracket finals last Friday with an 11-8 victory over Vian in the winner’s bracket semifinal round.
Preston’s opening-round meeting with Hulbert officially got underway last Thursday at 11 a.m. but only reached the bottom of the second before the contest was suspended by heavy rainfall with the bases loaded and Preston leading 6-1.
The Pirates and Riders continued their opening-round battle Friday at 11 a.m. with the Pirates coming out on top by a 17-1 margin.
After Hulbert opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first, the Pirates plated six runs in the home half of the frame to take over the lead at 6-1 after one inning of action.
When the game resumed on Friday, the Preston squad pushed across 10 runs in their half of the second then added a run in the fourth to put the finishing touches on the opening-round rout. Hunter McElhannon was awarded the pitching win for Preston in the opening-round contest, striking out four and walking two in two scoreless innings of relief work.
Jayden Herring got the start on the mound for the Pirates against Hulbert, allowing one run on one hit with three strikeouts, one walk, and one hit batsman in one and two-third innings of work.
Waylon Cope worked a scoreless inning and one-third of relief, striking out one and walking three, while giving up one base hit.
Kaden Dean was the top hitter for the Pirates in the opening-round win, finishing 3 for 4 with a single, double, triple, and 5 RBIs.
The trio of Herring (2 for 3, single, double, 2 RBIs), Kellen Dean (2 for 2, 2 singles, 2 RBIs), and Cooper Ausbrooks (2 for 3, single, home run, 2 RBIs) also recorded multi-hit games for Preston in the win with two hits each. Ausbrooks’ home run came on a 2-run blast in the 10-run second.
The remaining base hits for the Pirates against Hulbert came on singles by Luke Hankins and Easton Shaw, RBI singles by Noah Wilson and Trae Stidman, and a 2-run double by McElhannon.
In Friday’s narrow win over Vian, the Pirates kicked off the scoring with a run in the top of the first. Vian plated four in the bottom of the inning for a 4-1 advantage.
After a scoreless second, the Preston squad made it a 4-2 contest with a run in the top of the third, then took over the lead for good, 6-4, with a 4-run top of fourth. The Pirates added two in the fifth and three in the sixth for an 11-4 advantage.
Vian attempted to overcome the 7-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh, but were limited to just four runs in the frame to award the host Preston Pirates the 11-8 decision.
The top offensive performers for the Pirates in the winner’s bracket semifinal win were Kellen Dean (2 for 3, single, double, 2 RBIs) and Noah Wilson (2 for 3, 2 singles, 5 RBIs) with two hits apiece.
The other Preston hits in Friday’s narrow win came on singles by Luke Hankins and Easton Shaw, an RBI single by Cooper Ausbrooks, and an RBI triple by Kaden Dean.
Kellen Dean was awarded the pitching win for Preston, striking out one, walking two, and hitting one and allowing just one base hit in one and two-third innings of relief work.
Dean took over for starter Shaw, who went the first three and one-third innings, giving up four runs on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
Jayden Herring worked the final two innings of relief for Preston, allowing four runs on six hits in the relief appearance, striking out one, walking one, and hitting a batter.
In Saturday’s regional title game, the visitors opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first. Preston took over the lead at 4-1 with four runs in the bottom of the inning, then added one in the second and five in the third for a 10-1 advantage after three innings of action.
The Pirates’ lead remained at nine runs until the top of the sixth with the Wolverines pushing across four runs in the frame for a 10-5 contest.
After Preston was unable to extend its lead in the bottom of the sixth, Vian cut the Preston lead to two, 10-8, with three runs in the top of the seventh.
The visitors put the tying run on base with one out on a single and walk, respectively, but the runners were unable to advance any further, as the next two hitters were retired on a strikeout and lineout to preserve the Pirates’ 10-8 victory and secure the Preston squad’s first state tournament appearance in seven years.
Kaden Dean worked the first fiveplus innings on the mound for Preston to earn the pitching win. Dean gave up three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts, three walks, and three hit batters in the start.
Kellen Dean entered with no outs in the sixth and allowed five runs on four hits, striking out one and walking four in one and one-third innings of relief.
Noah Wilson entered out of the bullpen with one out, the bases empty, and Preston holding onto a narrow 10-8 lead and gave up one hit with one strikeout and one walk in two-thirds of an inning of relief work to earn the pitching save.
The offensive leaders in Saturday’s regional title win were Jayden Herring (2 for 4, 2 singles, 2 RBIs), Easton Shaw (2 for 3, 2 singles, RBI), Kaden Dean (2 for 3, 2 singles, 3 RBIs), and Preston Hale (2 for 3, 2 singles, RBI) with two hits apiece.
The other Pirate base hits on Saturday came on singles by Wilson and Luke Hankins and RBI singles by Kellen Dean and Cooper Ausbrooks.
— Class 2A Regional Tournament First Round
Preston 17, Hulbert 1
Hulbert:1- 0-0-0-01 – 2 -2 Preston: 6 – 10 – 0 – 1 – x 17 – 14 – 1 WP: Hunter McElhannon LP: Thompson HR: Preston: Cooper Ausbrooks — Winner’s Bracket Semifinals Preston 11, Vian 8
Preston:1-0-1-4-2-3-0 11 – 8 – 0 Vian:4-0-0-0-0-0-4 8 – 11 – 2 WP: Kellen Dean LP: Ramos HR: Vian: Bethel — Championship
Preston 10, Vian 8
Vian:1 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 4 – 3 8 – 10 – 1 Preston:4-1-5-0-0-0-x 10 – 12 – 0 WP: Kaden Dean LP: Bethel SV: Noah Wilson HR: Vian: Bethel, Fletcher