In their season opener against the University of Central Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Christian University baseball team fell 8-6, playing in the AirHogs Classic in Grand Prairie, TX Feb. 1.
Senior Chad Kennedy led the way for the Eagles, going 3-4 at the plate for a double, triple and home run with three RBI and two runs of his own. The team hit just a combined seven times during the game.
Oklahoma Christian connected on four of their seven hits in the first inning, scoring three times, including junior Alex Garcia bringing Kennedy home with a double. Kennedy scored sophomore Hunter Markwardt on a center-field triple.
Senior Mason McAlister started on the mound for the Eagles and threw nine strikeouts but allowed six runs in four innings. He was replaced in the fifth by junior Coby Bentley, who threw another three strikeouts and gave up two more runs.
Kennedy hit a lead-off homerun in the eighth inning, bringing the score to 8-5, but aside from a walk and single run in the ninth, the Eagles had no other hits in the final seven innings.
In their second game of the AirHogs Classic, the Eagles took down Emporia State University, the eighth rank team in the NCAA Division II coaches’ poll, 8-3 Feb. 2.
Kennedy hit the ball three out of five times at the plate, scoring three times and bringing in one runner while senior Jake Collins hit four of his five attempts including both a double and a triple.
Sophomore Gabe Rodery pitched his first start for Oklahoma Christian, pitching six innings, striking out seven batters and only giving up one run. He was relieved by senior Garett Hill in the seventh inning.
The Eagles scored twice in the first inning, off a Kennedy single to right field, which scored Markwardt and Collins brought Kennedy in off his own single.
Collins tripled in the seventh inning to score Kennedy and give the Eagles a 6-1 lead. Oklahoma Christian gave up two runs to the Hornets in the seventh inning but held them scoreless in both the eighth and ninth.
The third game of the classic was against Washburn University, where the Eagles lost 8-6 after giving up four runs in the ninth inning Feb. 3.
Oklahoma Christian went scoreless until the sixth inning where sophomore Kolton Brown brought two runners in on a double.
The Eagles tied the game up 4-4 off a single from Kennedy to bring Markwardt in. When Collins was walked in the bottom of the seventh and in the top of the eighth junior Brice Smith scored on a wild pitch and brought Collins in to put Oklahoma Christian up 6-4.
Senior Skyler Martin started on the mound for the Eagles, pitching five innings, striking out three batters and giving up three runs. Senior Matthew Fusselman came in during the seventh for relief and struck out three batters before giving up four runs to the Ichabods.
In their final game of the AirHogs Classic, Oklahoma Christian allowed seven unanswered runs against 20th-ranked Angelo State University as they fell 11-8 Feb. 4.
Markwardt went a perfect three-of-three at the plate scoring three solo runs for the Eagles while Kennedywent one-of-four, scoring twice and posting three RBI.
Oklahoma Christian scored three times in the fifth inning and three times in the third, but were held scoreless through the eighth and ninth.
The Eagles rotated six different pitchers throughout the game, giving up a combined 11 runs on 11 hits and only striking out seven batters.
Following the tournament, Kennedy was named the first Heartland Conference hitter of the week for the 2018 season. He hit .500, nine for 18, with two home runs and eight RBIs with a .526 on-base percentage and a 1.000 slugging percentage over the four games. This is the first time Kennedy has received this award.
The Eagles will travel to Shawnee to play two games against Oklahoma Baptist University Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.