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Tigers walk off wild Crosstown Clash for 6th straight win

Apr. 26—District play was over and Friday's game at Norman High had no bearing on the 6A postseason bracket, but the energy in the stadium could easily be mistaken for a playoff atmosphere.

The hosting Tigers lost their only meeting with Norman North last season, so it had been two long years since they had last topped their Crosstown rival. The Timberwolves were once again a formidable opponent, but the Tigers have been on a special run, going 23-9, and winning their last five.

With that in mind, the dramatic, back-and-forth eight innings of baseball that followed should've been expected.

With two outs down in a tied game, a pitch outside the plate bounced off the helmet of Norman North catcher Lane Evans. Dax Noles slid into home plate, but he didn't need to.

The Tigers' short stop easily scored on a walk-off passed ball to secure a 5-4 win.

"This game is like a championship," Norman High's Preston Baublit said. "It's a big rivalry. Love to win it."

The sophomore didn't score the winning run, but played a huge role in the Tigers' first Crosstown Clash win since 2022.

Baublit registered hits on each of his first three appearances at the plate.

He drove in two runs on a double in the bottom of the first to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. He hit a line-drive single in the third and an RBI-single in the fourth.

When Baublit went back to the plate in the bottom of the eighth there were two outs and runners on the corners.

The first pitch was outside of the strike zone, but the next pitch hit him in the head.

"I mean, you know, just trying to do a job and they just didn't want to pitch to me I guess," Baublit joked after the game.

The Tigers' right fielder went 3-4 at the plate with three RBI.

The rest of the team had four hits combined. Norman North starter Spencer Ille gave up two hits with a walk and a hit by pitch in the first inning. He responded by shutting out the Tigers over the next two innings.

He picked up two quick outs in the fourth inning before a walk, an error and two singles gave the Tigers a two-run cushion. Still, he allowed just two earned runs over 6.1 innings pitched with three strikeouts and three walks.

Ethen Swenson relieved him in the seventh and didn't allow another hit, but the Tigers drew a walk and were hit by a pitch in the eighth.

Norman North's Tanner Ellis hit a solo shot over the wall in left field and co-led the Timberwolves with two hits on the night. Evans also had two hits on four at-bats.

Norman High starter Trace Redwine struck out five of the 22 batters he faced, allowing five hits and four earned runs with one walk. Noah Flanagan came in in the sixth and allowed just two hits and no runs over the next 2.2 innings.

"They're older guys and they've played in this game for three years and they know Norman North's going to give us their best game and we're going to try to give them our best game also," Norman High head coach Cody Merrell said.

The Tigers have now won six straight heading into their final regular season game on Monday against Elgin. They've gone 7-13 in games that have been decided by three runs or less.

The Timberwolves fall to 18-15 overall and have lost their last five.

Tarik Masri is the sports editor for The Transcript covering OU athletics and area sports. You can reach him by emailing tarik@normantranscript.com