OKLAHOMA CITY (March 21, 2013) – For the second time in a week, Oklahoma Christian served noticed Thursday that it will be a baseball program to be reckoned with in the Heartland Conference.
Cale Coshow allowed one hit in seven innings and Garrett Guys crushed a three-run home run, lifting the Eagles past No. 5-ranked St. Mary’s (Texas) 5-3 at Dobson Field.
OC (16-10) led from start to finish against St. Mary’s (17-9) and didn’t blink when the Rattlers tried to rally in the ninth inning. The win came just days after OC beat NAIA No. 5 (and 2012 national runner-up) Rogers State 8-7 last Friday. Rogers State is set to join the Heartland Conference next season.
The Eagles also won two out of three road games against current Division II No. 11 Texas A&M-Kingsville earlier this season.
“St. Mary’s is leading the conference right now,” OC coach Lonny Cobble said. “I’m very pleased with the win. Hopefully we can build momentum and put some streaks together. We didn’t sneak up on them this time, so that makes it even bigger for us. We’re playing good. We’ve just got to continue to try to get better.”
St. Mary’s took its only lead in the top of the first against Coshow (2-2). Two walks and a fielding error by OC put the Rattlers up 1-0.
OC quickly answered in the bottom of the inning. Jordan Lopez reached on an infield single on the first pitch by St. Mary’s starter Nathan Humpal (1-1) and Markus Carr beat out a bunt two pitches later. Dillon Andrews sacrificed Lopez and Carr over, then Guys sent a shot over the left-field wall to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
Derek Moczygemba lined a shot over the left-field wall in the third inning to pull St. Mary’s within 3-2, but that was the only hit the Rattlers had off Coshow, who walked three and struck out five batters.
“My defense was making plays today,” Coshow said. “I wanted to overpower them, but I knew my defense would make plays. They’ve been making plays for me all year long and I have a bunch of faith in them.”
The Eagles added a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Caden Cleveland doubled to left-center field leading off, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Garrett Stephenson and scored on a single by Cory Eastwood. The Eagles then loaded the bases with two outs to chase Humpal. Reliever Rick Villa’s first pitch was wild, allowing Eastwood to scamper home to make it 5-2.
Luke Sandoval pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for OC, and closer Chris Burgess came on to finish the game. Burgess struggled a bit, giving up three singles and a run, but retired pinch-hitter Lance Zuluaga on a ground ball to end the game to finish off his fifth save of the season – just one shy of tying the single-season school record.
The Eagles won despite stranding 10 baserunners, something Cobble wants them to clean up as they head into the second half of the season. He also wants his team to show the same intensity they had against St. Mary’s and Rogers State against every opponent.
“The most disappointing thing is you bookend those two wins and you get beat twice by East Central, which had only five wins. … I just don’t want to get caught up in hitting those peaks and valleys, having two or three good days, then throwing a bad game in there. We’ve got to get a little more consistent.”
The Eagles had taken then-No. 1 St. Mary’s to extra innings in San Antonio, Texas, during the second game of the season before losing 3-2. Coshow said it doesn’t surprise him that the Eagles are competing with – and beating – highly ranked teams this season.
“One of our mottos this year is ‘Shock the nation.’ As a team, that’s all we want to do,” Coshow said. “When we beat a top-10 team, that only makes the program look good. Hopefully we can keep it going.”