On March 26, 2021, Oklahoma Christian University played a historic game of baseball against Eastern New Mexico, winning 27-7.
“In baseball, it’s not like football,” catcher Chance Westervelt said. “One touchdown is six points, whereas in baseball one runner touching the plate is one run. So, it’s just something very unheard of.”
To put this comparison into perspective, reaching the end zone 27 times in a football game would result in 162 points, not accounting for extra points.
A single run is earned each time a player is able to round the bases and cross home plate without getting out. A player can get on base by either getting a hit or getting walked, a task that sounds simple enough.
“Hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in sports,” Westervelt said.
Calculated by the collegiate pitcher’s mound to home plate distance (60.5 feet), and average pitching speed in Division II (roughly 80 mph), batters have an estimated 0.516 seconds to react. Within that amount of time, a batter must discern what kind of pitch has been thrown, decide where to swing and whether to swing at all.
Getting on base, however, is no guarantee a player will score. Scoring 27 times in a single game is no small feat.
“Murray [Evans, sports information director,] notified us after that that’s the most runs scored since the reinstatement of the program back in 2008,” Head Coach Lonny Cobble said.
According to the game’s recap article, the total runs scored in this game for Oklahoma Christian was also their “second-most ever, trailing only a 30-2 win over Hillsdale Baptist (now Randall) in 1989.”
The Eagles probably could have broken that now 32-year-old record.
“We probably could have beat those guys worse,” Cobble said. “There’s a kind of unwritten code that once you start beating somebody by 10, you quit stealing, you quit sending guys on pass balls and things like that. And a lot of those things happened.”
It is important in any sport to minimize errors and opportunities the opposing team has to advance their position and potentially score. In other words, training is vital.
“We practice every single day, a lot of us are going in after practice and before and over break,” Westervelt said. “All of us know that it’s not about the individual, it’s about what the Eagles want to do at the end of the year.”
Momentum can play a part, too.
“I always tell these guys there’s nothing more dangerous than a motivated college athlete,” Cobble said. “And when they get going and get on a roll, it’s going to be hard to stop.”
A team’s past experience and record in a given season can also play a role in their mindset, another important aspect.
“I think it depends, too, on the other team’s psyche. Eastern New Mexico had only won four or five games coming in,” Cobble said. “I think when bad things happen to some teams, that their players … probably think ‘here we go again.’ They just don’t have the same drive.”
Both of these parts of the game went well for the Eagles.
“Going into that weekend we were swinging pretty well and we had a bunch of confidence through the lineup,” Westervelt said. “The biggest thing was probably Gabe Rodery, (the starting pitcher), starting off the game really well. Whenever you can go a couple of innings putting up a zero (keeping the other team from scoring), it helps you just relax.”
Rodery is playing his last year.
“The big thing is … building the culture that we want to build here,” Rodery said. “To build a program that we want to leave for years to come.”
In that one historic game, this year’s Eagles worked together and wrote a legacy not soon forgotten.