Baseball Lions battles No. 12 Stars tooth and nail
Ortiz, Castro, Pisors shine; but OKC still takes two
Stars win final game, 4-3, with walk-off HR in last inning
Current Standings: http://www.soonerathletic.org/sport/0/6.php
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma -- Playing the kind of baseball that proves the mettle of a team, a young Southwestern Assemblies of God University squad proved they are up to the task on the road on Saturday.
Facing a stout test in the nation’s No. 12 ranked team; Oklahoma City University, the Lions came up just short during a pair of setbacks. The Stars won the opener by a 3-0 count, and then took the nightcap, 4-3, on a walk-off home run in the last inning.
OKC improved their overall record to 28-12 and 16-5 in the Sooner Athletic Conference. They trail No. 1 ranked Oklahoma Baptist University (36-6 / 16-4 in SAC) by one-half game in league action. OBU visits Waxahachie next Thursday and Friday.
SAGU, who continues their quest to qualify for a berth in the conference tournament, slipped from sixth to seventh in the standings. They are 18-24 in all games and are 8-13 in the SAC.
Head Coach Sam Blackmon’s team still has the SAC tourney in their focus and within their grasp. The Purple Pride has six games remaining, all at home over the next two weeks. His team keeps on developing as the season winds down.
In recent years the club has suffered many one-sided setbacks in series against nationally ranked teams.
A year ago Northwood University swept the Lions; outscoring them 60-17 in three games. Often the difference has been significant when comparing pitching and defense - exactly the area that distinguishes this year’s ballclub.
After losing the first game in the series, 12-0, on Friday, SAGU bounced back and legitimately contended.
“We lost two tough games today,” Coach Blackmon admitted. “Tres and Pisors pitched exceptionally well, matching OKC’s big lefties all the way.”
Freshman lefty Pedro “Tres” Ortiz (Lorena, Tx / Lorena HS) went the distance in the first game. He allowed only six hits, though three went for extra bases.
Ortiz (3-7) permitted three runs, one of them unearned, walked two and struck out five batters in a 101 pitch effort.
Jarrod Pisors (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) battled the Stars Michael Nolan in the finale on Saturday. Both are 6-foot-7 and fought tooth-and-nail throughout.
Pisors threw 88 pitches in five innings, yielded seven hits and three runs, all of them earned. He issued three base on balls and whiffed five batters.
Provided a 3-0 lead in the first inning, Pisors scrapped to protect it against a potent opponent. They gradually produced single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings to balance the scoreboard at three.
Sophomore Raul Castro (Durango, Mexico / Berkner HS, Hillsdale College), SAGU’s closer, got the call in the sixth when Pisors ran into trouble.
A leadoff double down the leftfield line started the tying rally. A costly passed ball against freshman catcher Brendan Martinez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Timber Creek HS) sent the runner to third. Pisors then missed on a 3-2 pitch, walking the next batter to put runners on the corners.
Enter Castro. He fanned the first batter he face before allowing a fly ball to center that scored the equalizer. Another fly ended the inning and left the game tied, 3-3.
SAGU missed a chance to reclaim the lead in the top of the seventh.
With two outs freshman Tallon Ralstin (Cortez, Colo / Cortez HS) ripped a 2-2 pitch to left for a single. Another freshman, Matthew Scheaffer (Crockett, Tx / Crockett HS, Howard Payne Univ), followed by poking a 1-1 chuck from Nolan to leftfield that enabled Ralstin to motor into third.
Nolan bowed up and retired yet another freshman, Brock Schneider (Arlington, Tx / Martin HS), on a 1-2 pitch.
Connor Lynch, the Stars junior catcher, batting in the #3 hole in the batting order, led off the home half of the seventh.
He blasted Castor’s first pitch, a fastball, driving it beyond the leftfield wall for the game-winner. It was his eighth homer and first in 15 games.
“Offensively,” Blackmon pointed out, “they were able to scratch a few more runs than us.”
The Lions scored thrice in the first but didn't tally again the rest of the day.
Schneider started the game by being hit with a pitch. He darted to third when the pitcher, Nolan, threw wildly after fielding a Clay Gentle (Fredericksburg, Tx / Fredericksburg HS) sacrifice bunt.
Captain Clutch, senior Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) followed with a hot hopper to first base to drive in the first run. Both runners then moved into scoring position thanks to a sac-bunt by sophomore Bryant Threadgill (Whitewright, Tx / Whitewright HS, Dallas Christian Col).
Castro, a power-built sophomore, jumped on a 2-0 delivery,propelling it deep into the right-centerfield alley. It scored two to give the Lions a solid 3-0 upper hand. It was almost enough.
Coach Blackmon post-series comments
“Obviously, no one is ever happy with a loss,” the coach continued, “but our team responded well after a tough loss last night and competed extremely well today.”
“I'm really proud of the effort from our entire team and staff today against a very good OCU team.”
Waxahachie is the site for SAGU and No. 1 OBU this week
SAGU is off until they entertain No. 1 Oklahoma Baptist for three games on Thursday and Friday.
A doubleheader at the Waxahachie Sports Complex starts the series at 2:00pm. The Bison and Lions clash on campus on Friday at noon.
The regular season concludes on April 25-26 with three games against Northwood University (26-17 / 14-6 in SAC). Coach Blackmon has confirmed that Senior Day will take place prior to the Saturday (Apr. 26) game against the Knights. Four seniors and their families will be recognized during a pre-game ceremony.
SAGU likely still needs two more wins during the OBU and Northwood series to qualify for the NCCAA Central Regional tournament.
The SAC tourney is set for May 2-5. The *NCCAA Central Regional is booked for May 6-9. Both events are set for south-central Oklahoma.
*NCCAA - National Christian College Athletic Association