OKLAHOMA CITY (March 29, 2014) – Oklahoma Christian received good news on the pitching front on Saturday – a key starter is back to form and the Eagles appear to have found themselves a closer.
Tyler Sturges, Eddie Broll and Dillon Endecott combined on a stellar outing against McMurry (Texas) on a warm Saturday afternoon, lifting OC past the War Hawks 4-2 at Dobson Field in the rubber match of the three-game Heartland Conference baseball series.
OC (18-9, 12-6 Heartland) moved into a second-place tie in the conference standings with St. Edward’s (Texas) and No. 12-ranked St. Mary’s (Texas), who are both 10-5 in league play. Lubbock Christian (Texas) leads the league with a 15-3 record. All three of those teams are ahead of OC in the NCAA Division II South Central Region rankings, in which the Eagles are No. 7.
“Our guys are playing well, if we can just continue it,” OC coach Lonny Cobble said. “Our goal was to win 20 (games) before we lose 10 and that goal is still intact.
“We’ve definitely got some work in front of us, but I’m pleased with the way we’re playing. I wish we had a little more intensity today, but you kind of have weekends like this. Their pitching was really good this weekend and we needed to play some good, close games.”
Sturges (2-1) had a rough two-inning outing a week ago at Rogers State, although the Eagles rallied to win the game. He pitched strong against McMurry (13-19, 7-10), allowing seven hits and two runs while striking out seven and walking none in seven innings.
“Tyler did a great job today, coming off last week, when he didn’t throw as well,” Cobble said. “This is as good as I’ve seen him throw all year. If he throws like this, he’s almost unhittable. The guy can throw three pitches for strikes and his ball moves a lot. I was just really proud of the way he went out and battled today.”
Broll threw a scoreless eighth inning, then Endecott made his fourth appearance in as many games, pitching the final inning to record his fifth save of the season – and his third of the week.
“Endecott has done a really good job,” Cobble said. “He’s been a starter, but we put him in the closer’s role and he’s kind of embraced it. He’s kind of got that mentality to come out and be a shutdown-type guy.”
OC took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against McMurry starter Ben Bates (1-4), as A.J. Florence singled and eventually scored on a single by Caden Cleveland. The Eagles made it 2-0 in the third, with Cleveland’s groundout scoring Markus Carr, who had doubled.
The War Hawks tied the game in the fifth, recording three hits, including a run-scoring single by Greg Koll.
OC answered in the sixth, with Cody Rosecrans leading off with a double and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Caleb Price. The Eagles added an insurance run in the seventh with two outs, as Carr was hit by a pitch, stole second base and third base (the latter as part of a double steal with Cleveland) and scored on a balk by McMurry reliever Lanny Zier.
The Eagles will face a challenging road trip next week, starting with a trip to No. 17-ranked Arkansas Tech on Monday, followed by a game Tuesday at East Central, a squad that entered Saturday on a 10-game winning streak.