Eagles Baseball Win Extra-Inning Thriller Over No. 1 Oklahoma Baptist

LEWISTON, Idaho – (Box Score) For the second game in a row for the Eagles, No. 3 Oklahoma Wesleyan wins an extra-inning game, as the club downed No. 1 Oklahoma Baptist, 4-3, in 11 innings Wednesday evening at the 2014 Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series.

The top-ranked Bison previously had only lost two-straight games once this season.

“It was a good college baseball game,” said Oklahoma Wesleyan head coach Matt Parker. “When you think of playing in Lewiston, those are the games you think about.

“It’s going to be a one-run game, and it’s going to be an execution game between two teams that play at the highest level.”

Cody Riley set the table for the Eagles in the top of the 11th with a leadoff single on the first pitch he faced. Will Powers, who entered the game as one-of-three Oklahoma Wesleyan players with an extra base hit at this year’s World Series, followed Riley’s lead, ripping a 1-2 pitch into the right-center field gap to score pinch runner John Davenport from first.

“I’m proud of them, two freshmen in that situation in big spots, didn’t think they let the game get bigger than them,” said Parker.

“They did a good job of trusting what we’ve asked our hitters to do all year, which is take a deep breath and get a good swing. We don’t ever say, ‘You have to get a hit.’ We just want them to get a good swing and get the right pitch. Garrett and Will both did that.”

The Eagles failed to add any additional insurance runs in the inning, however it proved unnecessary as Sam Haynes, who entered the game in relief of starter Diego Ibarra in the ninth, shut the door on Oklahoma Baptist’s season, retiring the Bison in order in the bottom of the 11th.

With the win, Oklahoma Wesleyan, which is making its first-ever appearance at the World Series, improves to 58-7 on the season and advances to play either No. 10 Cumberland (Tenn.) or No. 2 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) at 6:30 p.m. PDT on Thursday.

Oklahoma Baptist is eliminated from the World Series and closes 2014 with a 55-9 record.

Oklahoma Wesleyan, which entered the game hitting .306 (37-for-121) as a team at the World Series, tagged the Bison for two runs in the top of the first on a two-run blast by Midland Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year Jose Ruiz to draw first blood. The blast is the 15th of the season for the senior outfielder and the second at this year’s World Series.

Oklahoma Baptist left five runners on base in the first two innings, including a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the second. In the second, Oklahoma Wesleyan starter Diego Ibarra walked Joey Szczepanski to fill the bases with two outs. However, Ibarra was able to work out of the jam and keep the Bison off the scoreboard by inducing a fielder’s choice.

The Bison cut the deficit to 2-1 with one swing in the third inning, as sophomore first baseman Steven Knudson sent a 0-1 pitch into orbit. The home run is the first of the World Series for Oklahoma Baptist and only the squad’s third extra base hit.

Ivan Vela’s two out, two RBI single through the hole at shortstop gave Oklahoma Baptist its first lead of the ballgame in the bottom of the fifth, 3-2. Jeff Ricker and Matt Page scored on the play. Ricker reached previously with a single of his own, while Page walked on four pitches. The duo advanced to second and third on a ground out by Knudson.

Oklahoma Wesleyan showed few signs of life until the top of the ninth, as Trae BoBo, who recorded his first hit of the World Series earlier in the contest, walked with one out. A balk by Oklahoma Baptist starter Jinny Parra advanced pinch runner Gunner Joyce to second base.

Joyce scored two pitches later to tie the game, 3-3, when Garret Easton flipped a single into shallow left field. The throw to the plate got away from the Oklahoma Baptist catcher, however Gallacher recovered in time to throw out Easton at third to cut the rally short.

Haynes (9-2) received the win for Oklahoma Wesleyan, holding Oklahoma Baptist hitless in three innings of relief.

Eight different Eagles registered hits in the contest, including multi-hit performances by Riley and Easton. Ruiz led the squad in RBIs with two.

“We have tremendous respect for Coach Cox and his program,” said Parker. “The longevity and success that they’ve had is tremendous.”

Oklahoma Baptist’s Julian Merryweather was tagged with the loss to fall to 12-3 on the year.

The Avista-NAIA Baseball World Series is a 10-team, double-elimination event hosted by Lewis-Clark State College (Idaho). For more information on the 58th annual championship, click here.

—NAIA