By Harv Antle
OZARK – The Licking Wildcats opened the fall portion of their 2022-23 season with four games in two days at U.S. Ballpark in Ozark on Friday and Saturday.
SILO, OKLA. 8, LICKING 5
In the season opener, Licking fell to Silo 8-5. The Wildcats fell behind early, 5-1, but battled back to tie the game at the end of five innings. After failing to score in the top of the sixth, the Wildcats surrendered three runs to Silo and didn’t have an answer in the seventh.
Keyton Cook took the loss for Licking despite turning in a solid outing. The junior worked five and one-third innings and allowed five earned runs, fanning four and walking two.
“We could have played better defensively behind Keyton for sure,” Coach Harv Antle admitted. “Silo was playing its 11th game of the season and it was our opener, so there were some first game jitters for us, but I thought we hung in there and battled against a very good team.”
Silo has won five consecutive state championships in Oklahoma. The Rebels went 30-0 last spring to claim their most recent title.
Cook paced the offense for the Wildcats with a 2-for-3 day at the plate that included a triple and two runs-batted-in. Keyton Rinne scored twice while Malachi Antle and Rusty Buckner went 1-for-3 with an RBI each.
LICKING 11, SOUTHWEST WASHBURN 1
The Wildcats bounced back in their second game on Friday with a run-rule victory over the Trojans of Southwest Washburn. Rusty Buckner went the distance on the mound for the victory.
Buckner allowed one run on three hits over six innings and struck out seven. He also collected two hits in four trips to the plate and drove in four runs.
Malachi Antle was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Keyton Rinne doubled and scored two runs, while Keyton Cook went 1-for-3 with two stolen bases and a run scored. Garrett Gorman scored twice and was 1-for-1, and Kannon Buckner went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
LICKING 15, PURDY 5
Licking returned to Ozark on Saturday and defeated Purdy 15-5. Keyton Rinne carried the big stick for the offense with a 3-for-4 performance that included a double and two runs-batted-in.
Garrett Gorman knocked in three runs on two hits, one of which was a triple. Cole Wallace reached base four times from the leadoff spot and scored twice, Rusty Buckner went 2-for-4, and Kale Cook had a two-run single that sparked Licking to five runs in the top of the first inning.
Silas Antle went five innings for the Licking win. He fanned five, walked three, and surrendered no earned runs. Brently Morris and Austin Stephens added scoreless innings on the mound in relief of Antle.
LICKING 17, CRANE 0
The Wildcats wrapped up their weekend with a 17-0 blowout over Crane. Alex Buckner pitched three innings for the victory.
Buckner did not walk a batter and scattered five hits while fanning a pair of Pirates. Licking took advantage of three Crane errors and nine walks.
Keyton Rinne was 1-for-3 with three RBIs while Rusty Buckner and Karson Walker each drove in two runs. Derek Mendenhall singled and scored, Logan Gorman scored twice, and Cole Wallace went 1-for-1 with three runs scored.