OKLAHOMA CITY (May 6, 2014) – What had been one of the roughest starts to a baseball game Oklahoma Christian had ever experienced under coach Lonny Cobble quickly became one of the Eagles’ greatest offensive showcases.
OC fell into an early 5-0 hole to Crowley’s Ridge (Ark.), but responded with an 11-run inning, then later added a nine-run outburst en route to a 23-7 win in the Eagles’ opening game in the NCCAA Central Region tournament at Dobson Field on Tuesday night.
OC (33-15) rolled up a season-high 20 hits while posting the third-highest single-game run total since the university revived the program in 2008. The Eagles twice scored 24 runs during games in March 2010, in wins over Rogers State and Lubbock Christian (Texas).
The top-seeded Eagles remained in the winners’ bracket in the 10-team, double-elimination regional and will play fourth-seeded Central Baptist (Ark.) on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Central Baptist advanced with a 5-4 win over Arlington Baptist (Texas).
OC and Central Baptist are familiar foes, having split a pair of games in last year’s Central Region tournament. CBC knocked off OC in the tournament opener, but then fell in an elimination game to the Eagles, who eventually won the title to advance to the NCCAA World Series.
The hitting stars were many for the Eagles against eighth-seeded Crowley’s Ridge (12-27), but none shone more brightly than did Robert Rosser, who went 5-for-6 with a double, a triple and five RBIs. Cory Eastwood had four RBIs – three coming on a fifth-inning home run – and four other Eagles had two or more RBIs.
“It was a pretty good night at the plate for us,” Cobble said. “It’s always fun when we can get multiple guys in and let these guys play and experience a national tournament. It’s just good to be on the right side of that.”
The Pioneers jumped on OC starter Kacy Cook (1-0) for five runs on five hits in the top of the first. That seemed to catch the attention of the Eagles, who answered quickly and forcefully in the bottom of the inning.
The Eagles had just one runner on base with two outs against Crowley’s Ridge starter Hunter Blanton, but the next 12 OC batters reached base, with 10 of them scoring. Every starter reached base at least once in the inning, with Rosser contributing a pair of run-scoring hits. By the time the inning ended, OC had sent 16 men to the plate and led 11-5.
“It’s funny,” Cobble said. “When there was a break and they were making a pitching change (in the first), the guys kind of took a deep breath and a couple of them said they were a little bit nervous. I thought that was kind of odd that they would come out a little bit nervous in a tournament, but I think there were some nerves.
“I think it took us scoring some runs in that inning to get everybody kind of calmed down and settled down. I’m just glad that we righted the ship after that.”
Fourteen OC batters went to the plate in the nine-run fifth, which also included doubles by Blake Stringer, Rosser, Garrett Stephenson and Sean Murphy.
Garrett Guys also homered for the Eagles, a towering sixth-inning solo shot over the left-field wall.
Cook (1-0) settled down after the first and allowed just three more hits during his five-inning stint, while relievers Matt Brown and Zach Loomis finished off the game.
Dakota Campbell went 3-for-3 with three RBIs for the Pioneers, who will play Dallas Christian (Texas) in a 10 a.m. elimination game on Wednesday.
NCCAA CENTRAL REGION TOURNAMENT
Crowley's Ridge (Ark.) 9, Hillsdale Baptist 8
Central Baptist (Ark.) 5, Arlington Baptist (Texas) 4
McMurry (Texas) 8, Dallas Christian (Texas) 2
Ecclesia (Ark.) 10, Manhattan Christian (Kan.) 0
Arlington Baptist (Texas) 13, Hillsdale Baptist 2
Dallas Christian (Texas) 7, Manhattan Christian (Kan.) 2
Oklahoma Christian 23, Crowley's Ridge (Ark.) 7
Grace (Neb.) 4, Ecclesia (Ark.) 2