OKLAHOMA CITY (April 15, 2014) – It took a marathon baseball game to end decades of frustration for Oklahoma Christian against Oklahoma City University.
OC prevailed against OCU 13-10 on Tuesday night in a nonconference matchup at Jim Wade Stadium in a game that lasted four hours and 12 minutes, which really wasn’t that long when you consider this number – 40 years.
OC’s baseball records are spotty, but it’s thought the Eagles – who also beat the Stars 14-3 last Tuesday – hadn’t swept OCU in a season series since 1974, when a Max Dobson-coached squad did so back when OCU was a member of NCAA Division I. After OCU joined the NAIA with the 1986 season, the Stars and Eagles have played annually each season OC has fielded a team, usually as conference rivals.
“It’s exciting,” OC coach Lonny Cobble said. “When you play a team like OCU, they’re a measuring stick for everybody. It’s nice to come in and get two wins against these guys. … We’ve got just as good a team coming in this weekend. Lubbock (Christian) is leading the conference. It would be nice to take a couple from those guys and finish up these last two or three weeks up on a positive note.”
There were a lot of eye-popping numbers on Monday. OC (25-12) and NAIA No. 12-ranked OCU (28-13) combined to use 14 pitchers – seven for each side. OC’s hurlers threw 203 pitches, which OCU’s threw 202. Both teams left 13 men on base. There were nine stolen bases – six by the Eagles, three by OCU – as well as 27 hits, seven errors and six wild pitches.
Both teams rallied from four-run deficits to tie the game. Fortunately for OC, it was the Eagles who had the last offensive burst to regain the lead after OCU had pulled even at 10-10 in the seventh inning.
“It was a long game,” Cobble said. “They kind of jumped on us early. I was really proud of the guys for not panicking and battling back. Then they tie it up and we have to go score again. It was two good teams that both, I thought, hit the ball really well tonight. Luckily, they made a few more errors than we did and we had a couple of big hits late to win this thing.”
Facing OCU pitcher Roby Romero (1-1) in the eighth inning, Caleb Price walked with one out and stole second base. Zac Cobble singled to left field, scoring Price, and went to second base after the Stars botched a rundown play. A.J. Florence followed with a single to left field, scoring Cobble to make it 12-10.
Eddie Broll pitched a perfect bottom of the eighth for OC, then the Eagles added an insurance run in the ninth when Caden Cleveland walked and eventually scored on a single by Garrett Stephenson.
OC closer Dillon Endecott ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the ninth, as the Stars’ first two batters reached base, but he retired OCU’s next three batters. He coaxed a foul popup from Connor Lynch – who already had homered twice – then struck out Forrest Smith and Jared Baker to end the game and record his seventh save of the season, just two shy of the school record set last season by Chris Burgess.
Dylon Sturges (3-2) threw the seventh inning and picked up the pitching win for OC.
OCU jumped to a 4-0 lead after two innings and was up 6-4 thru five before the Eagles used a six-run sixth to take a 10-6 advantage. The Stars answered with two runs in the bottom of the sixth and two more in the seventh to tie the game. Lynch and Kyle Lacy had three hits each for the Stars.
Four Eagles – Florence, Markus Carr, Blake Stringer and Stephenson – had two hits each, while Stephenson had a season-high three RBIs. Stephenson, a senior playing out of position at second base, also made a nifty defensive play to end the seventh inning, snagging a bouncer by Austin Murphy and throwing him out by a step, which prevented the Stars from taking the lead and preserved the 10-10 tie.
Stephenson “did a really good job,” Lonny Cobble said. “He’s been one of those players for us who has been a role player all year for us and with some injuries has been starting a lot lately. The guy is just picking up the slack. He’s a ballgamer. I’m just really proud of the way he’s stepped up, being a senior and taking that leadership role. When he gets his opportunity, the guy performs.”