By Jeff Harrison
JENKS – According to Murphy’s law, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
That wasn’t the case Saturday afternoon when Carl Albert’s Declan Murphy took the mound against Bishop Kelley in the Class 5A state championship.
The sophomore simply laid down the law.
Murphy threw a one-hit complete game to lift the Titans past Bishop Kelley 7-1 for their second title in the past three years.
The Titans were ready to celebrate with a seven-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. But the final three outs and festivities had to wait as storms neared Hinch Field. Play was suspended for more than two hours.
After the delay, Murphy returned to the mound. He walked a batter and the Comets later scored on an error. Murphy responded with back-to-back strikeouts to finish the game.
“I had a lot of adrenaline and knew we just needed three outs with a seven-run cushion, I was feeling good,” Murphy said. “Getting those last two strikeouts was crazy. It was like a dream.”
Murphy wasn’t the only Titan to spin a gem in the state tournament. Juniors Kash Ferris and Sam Gonzalez both threw complete games. Ferris recorded 13 strikeouts against Collinsville, and Gonzalez allowed only three hits in a shutout of Sapulpa.
“We just went out there and pitched our butts off and let our defense work behind us,” Ferris said. “We think we have the best defense in the state and just came in here with that confidence.”
Coach Ryan Whitely said his pitching staff has been solid all season, but they dialed it up a notch at state.
“Those three guys (Murphy, Gonzalez and Ferris) went out and threw outstanding with three complete games,” he said. “We never had to go to the bullpen, but the thing is we have a lot of good arms in the bullpen too.”
Murphy allowed one hit, one unearned run, walked two and struck out seven in the victory. He needed only three pitches in the fifth inning and did not allow a hit until the seventh. Murphy also stayed in the game despite a nearly two-hour weather delay to close out the game.
“I was just locating pitches and my arm was feeling good,” Murphy said. “I had some lat problems the last month or so and it held up for me tonight.”
Carl Albert brought pressure early with three runs in the first. Mason Novotny hit a leadoff single and scored on a single by Ryan Ray for the first run. Chase Lashley brought home two more with a single to right.
“I started off the year slow but at the end of the day I was able to help the team out,” Lashley said.
The Titans added runs in the fourth and fifth innings. Tanner Norman drove in a run with a fly out, and Brodie Hinson scored Hutch Russell with a bunt single, making it a 5-0 score.
In the seventh, Norman belted a solo homer to right and Noah Evans scored Hinson with an RBI single for a 7-0 lead.
“I was hoping for one and was talking about it before the game,” said Norman who also had a couple of impressive defensive grabs at first base.
Carl Albert 4, Collinsville 2
The Titans avoided a late scare in the first round against Collinsville.
Carl Albert built a 4-1 lead heading into the seventh inning. The Cardinals scored on a single by Isaac Lawhead to make it a two-run game. The next batter was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Ferris responded with consecutive strikeouts to end the threat and earn the 4-2 victory.
Jackson Brown gave the Titans the lead first with an RBI single in the third.
Collinsville answered the top of the fourth, but Lashley put his team on top for good with an RBI fielder’s choice. The Titans picked up insurance runs in the fifth on a single by Norman and double by Ray, making it a 4-2 score.
Ferris allowed two runs on six hits with 13 strikeouts and no walks.
Carl Albert 6, Sapulpa 0
The Titans received another impressive pitching performance and solid run support in a 6-0 win over Sapulpa Friday in the semifinals.
Gonzalez threw a complete game shutout and drove in two runs.
“It feels amazing to just be able to be a leader and help us punch that ticket to the state championship,” Gonzalez said.
The junior got his team on the board in the second. With the bases loaded, Gonzalez ripped a grounder to left scoring Lashley. Norman hit a sacrifice fly and Ryan drew a walk with the bases loaded for a 3-0 lead.
Carl Albert added two more in the fifth. Gonzalez and Russell each singled in a run for a 5-0 advantage.
The Titans scored off a balk in the sixth.
Mister Randle led the way with three hits. Gonzalez was 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs. Norman, Ray and Lashley also had two hits apiece.
Gonzalez earned the win after allowing no runs on three hits and no walks. He notched six strikeouts.
“My fastball was moving, and they couldn’t find a barrel on it,” he said. “And I was letting my defense make plays.”
The Titans continued to dominate Saturday in the 7-1 win over Kelley in the finals. It was the team’s seventh state championship. The Titans also beat Kelley in the 2021 state finals.