Photo by: Nick Conley
Sophomore pitcher Luke Sandoval and the Oklahoma Christian University baseball team wasted no time taking the lead on Opening Day Monday against Schreiner University, making a statement with a 14-2 victory over the Mountaineers.
Sandoval was given the start for the Eagles and tossed six innings, allowing only five hits and one unearned run against the Mountaineers. The Eagles solidified themselves as a force to be reckoned with in 2013.
Sandoval, who did not allow a walk and struck out three along the way, gave the credit to the team and noted the excitement that accompanies Opening Day.
“Today was a great team victory,” Sandoval said. “It was a really great feeling to see everyone excited and ready to play. I was ready for today; I pitched well enough for us to win, and we accomplished that today.”
The Eagles took no time in getting on the board, putting up five runs in the first inning off junior Mountaineer starter Ethan Catalani. Sophomore Jordan Lopez served as the catalyst of the rally, sending a line drive to left and starting an inning that would feature every hitter of the Eagles’ lineup.
The Eagles racked up 14 hits, eight of which came off Catalani, who only lasted three and-a-third innings and surrendered nine runs. Junior Cody Rosecrans highlighted the hit parade for the Eagles, going 2-2 with two doubles, two walks, two RBIs and three runs.
Rosecrans, who is in his first year with the Eagles after transferring from Grayson College in Dennison, Texas, echoed Sandoval’s remarks about the total team effort turned in by the Eagles.
“It was great to see us come out and hang five in the first inning,” Rosecrans said. “All the guys were seeing the ball well today, and it was great to see all of the hard work we’ve put in show on Opening Day.”
11 of the 15 hitters that the Eagles sent to the plate registered hits against the Mountaineers, exhibiting their abnormal amount of depth and talent. Additionally, 15 of the 18 Eagles that stepped onto the field turned in either an assist or putout as the depth translates both in the box and between the lines.
Rosecrans, who was responsible for four total outs of his own, elaborated on the value and rarity of the extreme depth the Eagles enjoy.
“It’s nice to know you have guys all around you who can make plays,” Rosecrans said. “An invaluable part of the game is faith in the guys around you, that when the ball comes their way, an out is coming. This team has that faith and, as the team continues to mesh, has the capability of doing something special.”
Head coach Lonny Cobble, who is in his first season as skipper for the Eagles, also grabbed his first collegiate win with this victory against Schreiner.
Cobble, who saw extensive success in his time at Edmond Santa Fe High School, felt both happiness and relief in the first Opening Day of his college career.
“I’m glad to get this first win behind us and was really glad at the way the guys came out and played,” Cobble said. “Everybody that got in the game put pressure on those guys, and we’re hoping that’s the way the season goes.”
After a 2012 season that saw only eight wins for the Eagles, a strong outing to kick off the 2013 campaign was a major focus for this rejuvenated Oklahoma Christian squad. With many new faces amongst both the coaching staff and the roster, Opening Day for the Eagles meant more than just a tally in the win column.
Sandoval, who represents one of the dozen of returning members of the 2012 Eagles baseball team, alluded to the gravity of this matchup with the Mountaineers for the program as a whole.
“We came out with a chip on our shoulders,” Sandoval said. “We know we are better than last year and that motivated us today.”
Cobble, who leads the new-look band of Eagles, was thoroughly pleased at several aspects of the victory over the Mountaineers.
“I was definitely excited about the way we played against Schreiner and the way we set the tempo with five runs in the first,” Cobble said. “We only made the one error, which will be the way our team will see success – through fundamental baseball. I was also pleased with the pitching aspect. One walk in your first game of the season is impressive for any team.”
The Eagles are set to take to the road on Tuesday, Feb. 12 against former SAC conference opponent St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Okla. Following that will be the home opener for the Eagles at Dobson Field against Oklahoma Panhandle State University on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 2 p.m.