Pierce shines, Stringer homers as OC beats Pitt State 9-4 in opener

Blake Stringer hit OC's first home run of the season during a win over Pittsburg State.
Blake Stringer hit OC's first home run of the season during a win over Pittsburg State.

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 14, 2014) – The extra-base hits were flowing and Brandon Pierce was humming along on the mound, which proved to be an effective combination for Oklahoma Christian on Friday afternoon against Pittsburg State (Kan.).

Six of OC’s nine hits went for extra bases, including a two-run homer by Blake Stringer, and Pierce threw seven strong innings in his first start for the Eagles, lifting them to a 9-4 win over Pittsburg State at Pirate Field in the season opener for both baseball teams.

A.J. Florence went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored for the Eagles, who recorded their third straight win in a season opener.

“It’s been nice to get outside,” OC coach Lonny Cobble said. “I think everybody was a bit stir crazy. It’s just great to … finally get to play somebody else.”

The series between the Eagles and Gorillas originally was scheduled for last week, but snowy, cold conditions forced its postponement to this weekend and the series is being played at Putnam City High School’s artificial turf field. With a gusty north wind howling in from left field, the Eagles relied on opposite-field hitting, with all of their extra-base hits going toward right field.

After scratching out a run in the first on singles by Florence and Stringer (who had three RBIs), OC touched Pittsburg State starter Tyler Thompson (0-1) for three runs on three extra-base hits in the third. Markus Carr tripled to lead off and scored on a double by Florence. One out later, Stringer hit a pitch over the right-field fence to make it 4-0.

Zac Cobble and Cory Eastwood had back-to-back doubles during a two-run fourth that put OC up 6-1. The Eagles added three more runs in the eighth on just one hit, a single by Cody Rosecrans.

“Like I said last year, if we could score runs, we’d have won a lot more games than we did,” Cobble said. “So we’re excited about the offense. That’s something we’ve really worked on. The guys bought in to hitting the ball the other way. … I was very pleased to see that part of it.”

Meanwhile, Pierce – a transfer who played three seasons at Nebraska – made his OC debut by striking out the side in the first inning. He faced the minimum number of batters through the first three innings and gave up only one run, that on a RBI single by Brad Foss in the fourth.

Pierce (1-0) retired 10 straight batters in one stretch and allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out six.

“Brandon came in and threw well,” Cobble said. “Being a Division I transfer from Nebraska, I didn’t feel he’d really have any nerves. I thought he’d be a good guy to get us out there. He set the tempo in the first inning with the three strikeouts and threw great all day. He didn’t really get himself in any trouble. He was upset with himself when he gave up the run, but we’ll take that.”

The Eagles and Gorillas will play a doubleheader on Saturday, starting at 2 p.m.