Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
The Oklahoma Christian University baseball team has been busy in the past couple of weeks with 14 games in 16 days. The Eagles grabbed big wins against Rogers State University and St. Mary’s University, but dropped games to lesser schools, as has been the Eagles’ Achilles heel this season.
The recap starts on March 7 when the Eagles took on McMurray University out of Texas. The Eagles received a complete game four hitter from junior Tyler Sturges and capitalized on five runs in a big third inning on their way to a 13-2 victory.
Juniors Blake Stringer and Markus Carr and sophomore Garrett Guys each contributed three hits to the cause.
The following day, the Eagles played two against MidAmerica Nazarene University. Sophomore Cale Coshow had six strikeouts in six innings of work in game one, and sophomore Luke Sandoval followed with a complete game three hitter in which he fanned 12, completing a pair of wins for the Eagles.
Junior Cory Eastwood had three of the Eagles’ 11 hits in game one, and the Eagles grabbed four runs in the fourth inning of game two to complement the masterful pitching performances from the sophomore righties.
The following day brought about another doubleheader against MidAmerica Nazarene, but the second was cancelled due to rain. Sophomore Kelby Reneau went six innings, allowing only two hits and striking out seven on his way to a game one victory. Guys went 2-3 with three RBIs, lifting the Eagles to a 4-1 victory and a three-game sweep.
March 12 sent the Eagles to Kansas to face Newman University where they snapped a five-game winning streak in a 12-6 loss. Junior Tyler Schumann got the start and was roughed-up for six runs in the second inning. Newman would grab four more in the sixth inning, and the Eagles could not muster a comeback.
Stringer, named the NCAA Division II South Central Regional Hitter of the Week, went 2-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. He was matched by Guys who went 2-4 on the day.
Northwestern Oklahoma State University came to Dobson Field the next day, and the Eagles returned to their winning ways in explosive fashion, 11-5. Sophomore Jordan Lopez and Carr each had three-run home runs, and junior starter Brock Werdel allowed only five hits and struck out eight.
Next to town was the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith, facing Sturges who dealt for seven and one-third innings and struck out five. Senior Dillon Andrews stroked a double and a home run and finished 3-4 with four RBIs in the game. Carr also went 3-4 and scored three times for the Eagles as they went on to win 6-2.
The next day featured arguably the biggest game of the busy stretch for the Eagles, bringing former SAC Conference foe Rogers State University to Dobson Field. The Hillcats finished as the runner-up in the NAIA last year and was No. 5 at the time this year.
The Eagles grabbed five runs on seven hits in the bottom of the fourth inning, but were answered by Rogers State’s six runs the following inning. The Eagles responded in the eighth with three huge runs, which proved insurmountable for the Hillcats, and the Eagles posted a massive 8-7 win.
Junior Garrett Stephenson and Andrews each went 3-4 for the Eagles, and senior Chris Burgess picked up the win after striking out four in the final two innings to slam the door on any thought of a comeback.
Riding the high of their big win against Rogers State, the Eagles welcomed East Central University to Dobson Field for a doubleheader on March 16. Sandoval got the nod for the Eagles in game one and tossed a brilliant three-hit complete game shutout in a 5-0 win.
Game two featured Reneau and less offense from the bats of the Eagles. After a two-run double by Stephenson put the Eagles up 2-0, a three-run fifth inning led to an East Central 3-2 victory in game two.
The Eagles then traveled to Ada, Okla. to face East Central in a third game on the road. Despite out-hitting their opponent 11-9, the Eagles suffered a consecutive loss to the Tigers 7-3.
Andrews led the Eagles in hitting, going 3-5, and was assisted by two hits from Stringer and Eastwood, but the 10 runners left on base proved to be the difference in the loss.
After a pair of disappointing losses, the Eagles looked to right the ship against St. Mary’s University who stood atop the Heartland Conference. As has been the theme for the Eagles this season, the talent of the competition brought out the best in the Eagles and they solidified another substantial win, 5-3.
Coshow threw a one-hitter in seven innings of work. Sandoval came in to retire St. Mary’s in order in the eighth, and Burgess shut the door once again in the ninth. Guys led the hitting attack with a three-run bomb that served as a catalyst in the victory.
This past Friday capped the Eagles’ busy spring break schedule with a doubleheader against Nebraska Wesleyan University. Sturges was given the ball in game one and threw a complete game, allowing only five hits and striking out nine. The bats were silent for the home team, however, and failure to push across runners in scoring position resulted in a 1-0 loss for the Eagles.
Werdel kept the Eagles’ hopes alive in game two, however, tossing six innings of four-hit baseball. Stephenson, Carr, and senior Evan Draper each had two hits for the Eagles in game two, and the Eagles got the split with a 2-1 win.
Carr commented on where he believes his successful streak of hitting originated.
“We have been putting in a lot of work in practice in the cages,” Carr said. “I think we have come together as a team and all of the parts of our game are starting to hit stride, and hitting is one of those.”
Burgess, who got the save in game two, recorded his sixth save of the season, which ties him for the single season record at Oklahoma Christian. The record mark has stood since 1993.
Tuesday sent the Eagles to Alva, Okla. where they faced off once again with Northwestern Oklahoma State. Coshow got the start for the Eagles, and the Eagles jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead. A four-run blip, followed by a two-run home run by the Rangers, put the Eagles down one going into their last at-bat.
The Eagles would tie the game on a clutch RBI double by sophomore Caden Cleveland in the top of the ninth, then grab the lead off of home runs by Price and Lopez in the top of the 10th to seal the victory, 8-6.
Price offered insight into the thoughts and emotions that accompanied his game-winning home run.
“With a tie ballgame we were just looking to get runners on base,” Price said. “I was looking fastball away, reacted to slider and it felt good off the bat. Luckily it went over the fence. I was just glad I could come through for the team.”
The Eagles are currently in Arkadelphia, Ark. in a three game series with Ouachita Baptist University today and tomorrow.