OKLAHOMA CITY (April 29, 2014) – A big reason why Oklahoma Christian has one of the Sooner State’s top small-college baseball teams is the Eagles’ bullpen, which carried them to another win over an in-state foe on Tuesday night.
Six OC relievers combined to limit Central Oklahoma to six hits and one run over 7 2/3 innings and closer Dillon Endecott broke the program’s single-season and career records with his 10th save as the Eagles beat their cross-Edmond rivals 5-2 at Dobson Field.
OC (29-15) moved to 11-2 on the season against Oklahoma squads, with the Eagles’ only losses coming to Southeastern Oklahoma State in an early season doubleheader. OC has recorded wins against NAIA powers Oklahoma Baptist and Oklahoma City, as well as against NCAA Division II foes in Southwestern Oklahoma State, Southern Nazarene, East Central, Rogers State and UCO (34-15), which is ranked No. 9 in Division II’s Central Region.
The Eagles – ranked No. 7 in the South Central Region – will visit Oklahoma Panhandle State this weekend for a three-game Heartland Conference series.
“Those guys are really good,” OC coach Lonny Cobble said of UCO. “They finished second or third in their conference and they’ve played really well all year. It was kind of a lackluster performance by both teams tonight, but to come out on top of another Edmond team … is always a good thing to do.”
On Tuesday, OC jumped quickly on UCO starter Joe Hollowell (3-3), with Jordan Lopez’s double keying a two-run first inning. Caleb Price and Blake Stringer also had singles during the outburst.
OC starter Zach Loomis walked five batters in 1 1/3 innings and the Bronchos loaded the bases with one out against him in the second, but senior Ryan Nash entered the game and limited the damage, with only one of those runners scoring. Nash (3-0) went 1 2/3 innings to pick up the pitching win.
Tyler Sturges followed with two solid innings, giving up just one run. Garrett Sumpter, Matt Brown and Dylon Sturges each threw one shutout inning before Endecott, a junior from McLoud, entered and threw a perfect ninth inning to become the first OC player ever to reach double digits in saves – in a season or career. Chris Burgess had set the previous season and career records with nine saves last season.
“It’s exciting to see (Endecott) come along and do that,” Cobble said. “When Chris Burgess graduated, we were really worried about who was going to fill that role. Endecott has come in and he’s got the mentality to do it. He’s settled into it and he’s thrown well all year for us. He could pick up another one or two, hopefully, this weekend and in the regional playoffs.
“Everybody we threw out there tonight did an excellent job. Just having those guys throw well at the end here will be big for us.”
A.J. Florence singled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Lopez in the third, putting OC up 3-1. The Bronchos pulled within 3-2 in the fifth, as Wacey Henderson walked and scored on Dilon Argo’s single up the middle, but OC answered with a run in the bottom of the inning, with Caleb Price hitting a one-out single and scoring on another single by Stringer.
In the seventh, Florence reached on a bunt single down the first-base line, went to second base on a sacrifice by Price and scored on a single up the middle by Lopez that made it 5-2.
“We’re real excited about Jordan,” Cobble said. “I was a little worried about him tonight, in the cold weather with the hamstring, but he said he felt good and he was running on the bases really well. … It’s just exciting to see him get back in the swing of it. Hopefully he gets hot and stays hot down the stretch.”
OC will wrap up its regular season at Oklahoma Panhandle State before hosting the National Christian College Athletic Association Central Region tournament, starting next Tuesday. Ten teams are expected to play in the double-elimination tournament, which OC won last season.