SEBRING - Owasso (OK) was 36-0 last season. The Rams cruised through the regular season and went on to win the Oklahoma Class 6A State Championship.
But that was last year.
Thursday at Firemen's Field, Class 4A Sebring introduced the Sooner State to how baseball's played in Florida.
The Blue Streaks overcame a 3-0 deficit to edge the Rams by a score of 6-4. It was a much needed victory for Sebring (6-8), as it ended a five-game losing streak. Owasso dropped to 3-2.
Facing competition as tough as Owasso is exactly what Streaks coach Jasone DeWitt wants for his team.
"I assembled a schedule that I thought we'd be able to compete with," he said. "I wanted us to be in a position that we wanted to be in at the last half of the season."
"We needed to have an idea of where we were going and who we were. And now we have an identity," DeWitt added.
The Rams bolted out to a 3-0 lead, scoring one run in the top of the second inning and two more in the top of the fourth. Sebring had its chances, but errors on the base paths did in most of the Streaks scoring opportunities.
That all changed in the bottom of the fifth.
Sebring scored five runs in the inning to take a 5-3 lead. Kyle Helms led off with a walk. After Jared Lang flew out to center field, Jordan Austin reached on an error by the Rams' second baseman. Matthew Portis drew another walk to load the bases. Owasso changed pitchers, but the stage was already set for Jimmy Peck.
The Streaks catcher blasted a pitch into right field, bringing Helms home for Sebring's first run of the afternoon. Joe Staffieri struck out after Peck's RBI, but Ty Little reached on a rare infield single to score another run. Owasso walked Josh Crouch to tie the score.
With Portis taking a lead at third, Owasso's catcher made an errant throw down the base path and Portis scampered home to give Sebring its first lead of the game.
The Rams walked in another run to cap the scoring boone.
"We challenged our guys to get going early," DeWitt said. "They've done everything and more that the coaches have asked of them. And now we're starting to see the turning point - battling back with two strikes, bringing guys in scoring position home, and staying calm on the mound. We were prepared for these guys today. No doubt about it."
Owasso scored its final run in the top of the sixth. But Sebring countered in the bottom half of the inning to cushion its lead. Once again, the Streaks fortunes rested on Peck's bat.
With Portis on first, Peck launched a pitch to the left field fences, scoring Portis with a stand-up double.
DeWitt brought in Keat Waldron to close the game. Waldron breezed through the top of the seventh to shut the door on the Rams.
Sebring's next game is at Class 6A Okeechobee on Tuesday. The Streaks will play the Brahmans at 7 p.m. The varsity-only game starts at 7 p.m.
"The last half our season starts Monday basically," DeWitt said. "But we've played a strong schedule and we're ready for districts. I've learned a lot about my guys and they've learned a lot about me."