HS Baseball: War Eagles Ride Comeback Tidalwave to Victory in The Battle of the Oaks

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 04/05/2024


OAK RIDGE NORTH, TX -- The Oak Ridge War Eagles (12-7) rode an explosive comeback to a 5-3 victory over the Grand Oaks Grizzlies (18-7) to avenge a road defeat from earlier in the week.

These two teams squared off on Tuesday at Grand Oaks High School, where the Grizzlies took a 6-3 win that put the team just ahead of Oak Ridge in the district standings.

Not wanting to slip into a three-game losing streak, the importance of securing a win was heightened for the War Eagles as they got set to host under the Friday night lights.

Grand Oaks started the game swinging aggressively from the plate, with their first hit coming just one throw into the game.

A few hits later, a sacrifice bunt from Grand Oaks’ Sebastian Seguara brought in the first run with just one out given up. The bats continued to explode for the Grizzlies, with another three hits putting runners on and bringing in three runs.

The electric top of the first left the War Eagles stunned, as their first trip to the plate already had the daunting task of attempting to bring the game under control.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Oak Ridge Head Coach Justin Peirce explained the messaging to the team with the early deficit.

“With it being that early, I felt like our offense can scratch a run or two,” said Peirce. “But I told these guys that they needed to wake up.”

Unfortunately for Peirce and the rest of Oak Ridge, the team was deafly silent for most of the game.

While the Grizzlies burst onto the scene with a red-hot first inning, the War Eagles failed to get a runner into scoring position for five straight innings.

Grand Oaks’ fielding was rock-solid in allowing only one error in the first five innings, and a pitching clinic from Marc Barnhard put to rest any hopes of a potential Oak Ridger comeback.

The steadily productive arm of Barnhard orchestrated a stretch of utter dominance on the mound. The third, fourth, and fifth innings all resulted in three up-and-down situations for Oak Ridge.

The oppressive defense put on by the Grizzlies did come with a caveat that kept the team in a perpetual state of danger. The strong bats that got the team a 3-0 lead in the top of the first went silent for the next five innings.

A handful of opportunities were available for Grand Oaks to cash in, but runners were left stranded in scoring position instead of extending the team’s lead ahead of crunch time.

“Our defense has been good the whole year,” said Peirce. “I didn’t think [Grand Oaks] would score a lot of runs after I told our guys to settle down and get a grasp on what makes sense to us.”

Another shutout inning from the War Eagle defense kept the team behind by just three runs going into the bottom of the sixth. Following their defense-heavy approach, Oak Ridge’s prolonged struggle at the plate came to an explosive end.

Blazing fast running from lead-off hitter Gabe Camarillo put a runner on base for the team’s first hit of the game. A balk from the previously flawless Barnhard was followed by a single that Oak Ridge runners on the corners with the tying run at bat.

A bunt from Aidan Morgan brought Camarillo in for the score, and a sly dodge of the tag attempt resituated runners on the corners with just one out.

Oak Ridge’s hopes of a tie were delivered by the bat of Connor Cramer, who hoisted a 2-run RBI double into the outfield.

To avoid any more runs being surrendered, Grand Oaks Coach Lou Ferrell switched out his pitchers while the game was still tied. Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, the unseasoned arms of the substitute pitchers only accelerated the Oak Ridge comeback.

A lengthy series of walks, hit batters, and wild pitches brought in two more War Eagle runners to completely swing the game to a 5-3 Oak Ridge lead.

“We weren’t trying to score three, we were just trying to score one,” said Peirce. “We saw all of that happen, and I thought we could get a few base hits and we’re back in it.”

The Grizzlies managed to stop the damage at five runs given up, but a reignition of the team’s bats would be needed if they hoped to keep the game alive in the top of the seventh.

A lead-off hit-by-pitch seemed like a promising start for Grand Oaks, but the hope was short-lived. Oak Ridge’s defense secured a pop-fly and double play to clinch the 5-3 win.

The strategy for the War Eagles remains the same after their comeback, continue to win, and potentially secure a playoff spot.

“Everybody is beating everybody, so it’s going to be a dogfight,” said Peirce. “I tell our guys that if we can split with everyone, we will have a chance of getting in.”

The War Eagles now set their sights on the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, while Grand Oaks hopes to rebound versus the New Caney Eagles.

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