#5 in 2013 – OC baseball advances to NCCAA World Series, has 2 players drafted

Players on OC's baseball team dogpile moments after clinching the NCCAA Central Region title with seventh-inning triple play against Ecclesia (Ark.).
Players on OC's baseball team dogpile moments after clinching the NCCAA Central Region title with seventh-inning triple play against Ecclesia (Ark.).

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of posts recapping the top stories in Oklahoma Christian athletics during the 2013 calendar year.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 27, 2013) – It had been decades since Oklahoma Christian had won a postseason tournament and the Eagles never had had two players chosen in the Major League Baseball draft in any year.

All that changed this year. The success of the OC program in coach Lonny Cobble’s first season at the helm was No. 5 on the list of top stories in OC athletics in 2013.

Cobble mixed in newcomers recruited by his staff with returning veterans and the results were positive. Despite a bizarre schedule in which OC was forced to play single games with Heartland Conference opponents at odd times of each week, the Eagles would have finished fourth in the league had their games been counted in the standings.

OC took two of three games on the road at regionally ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville and also split with new conference rival and traditional NCAA Division II power St. Mary’s (Texas). The Eagles’ strength was a deep pitching staff that included a trio of transfers from Division I schools – Cale Coshow (Oklahoma), Tyler Sturges (Kansas State) and Chris Burgess (Oklahoma).

That pitching depth proved invaluable during the National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region tournament, which OC hosted. After falling 2-0 to Central Baptist (Ark.) in their first game, the Eagles reeled off three straight wins.

Sturges and Burgess combined on a two-hitter in a 5-1 win over Ecclesia (Ark.) in the region title game. OC finished the game by turning the program’s first triple play in recent memory, giving the Eagles their first postseason tournament title since 1972, when they won the NAIA Area III title on their way to the NAIA World Series.

At the NCCAA World Series in Mason, Ohio, the Eagles went 1-3 in pool play, with the one win coming by a 5-2 count over Cedarville (Ohio), which started a pitcher (Ryan Ledbetter) who later was taken in the 19th round of the MLB draft.

OC finished 26-26 overall, with Burgess (7-0, nine saves, 1.54 ERA) becoming the program’s 11th All-America selection after setting the program’s single-season and career saves record. Senior center fielder Dillon Andrews was the Central Region’s co-hitter of the year and a first-team all-conference pick while Cobble was the region’s coach of the year.

In the MLB draft the following month, the New York Yankees selected Coshow in the 13th round while Burgess went in the 26th round to the Philadelphia Phillies. Before this year, in the OC program’s history, only six players had ever been drafted, with no more than one of those in any single season.

Burgess and Coshow both signed pro contracts and Burgess went on to record a save in a combined no-hitter for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws of the South Atlantic League.