OKLAHOMA CITY – The Drovers and the Hillcats battled through nine action-packed innings on Wednesday afternoon, but USAO came out on top in the first game of the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament.
No. 25 Drovers (39-14) scored in four separate innings to defeat Rogers State 6-5.
“We came in and did what we needed to do. It was a great game from both sides until the final pitch,” Head Coach Mike Ross said. “Fortunately for us, we held on for the win.”
Despite being a higher seed, the Drovers batted first as the home and away teams were chosen by a coin toss.
The Drovers gave up an early run, forcing themselves to work from behind. With that play, Colton Campbell hit a double out to right field and the ball fell just beyond USAO’s Daniel Edwards’ diving reach. The play scored Hillcat Jose Olazagasti.
It wasn’t until the third that the Drovers tied it up. With USAO’s Jared Coon and Heath Wilda on base, Brian Vigo grounded out to give Coon a chance to score and tie the game.
Then in the bottom of the fourth, the Drovers appeared to be in trouble when a RSU’s Cody Campbell hit deep into left field with Colton Campbell on second, but Coon’s arm sent the ball into catcher Owen Adams’ glove just in time to record an out a home.
In the next inning, Coon and Wilda found themselves on base again, and a two-RBI double by Zach Gonzalez brought both players home to take the lead for the first time in the game.
RSU’s Blake Heston then scored in the bottom of the fifth when a double by Eric Baker went deep in to right field. But the play wasn’t all bad for USAO, who were able to get Baker out trying to steal third on the throw.
In the bottom of the sixth, RSU tied the game at three a piece with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Colton Campbell.
Wilda scored his second run of the game in the top of the seventh when Gonzalez hit his second double. Gonzalez then advanced home on a sacrifice fly by Adams before the inning ended.
Alex Cochran and Baker both scored in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game, but the Drovers got out of a sticky situation with a double play.
The Drovers scored their final run in the top of the eighth. Summers had singled up to left center and the nstole second. Coon followed with his third hit of the day – and 76th of the season. Wilda then grounded into a double play that allowed Summers to score.
Leading 6-5, the Drovers battled for each out in the eighth and ninth inning to ultimately come out on top in the first game of the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament.
“It was a big team win. We all fought together,” Wilda said.
Blake McMullen spent more than six innings on the mound for the Drovers and threw four strikeouts. With 88 on the season, he is just one strikeout away from tying the school record for strikeouts in a single season.
Josh Goodman (5-1) earned the win as the relief pitcher. He threw one strikeout.
Should weather allow, the Drovers will play eighth-seeded Mid-America Christian at 2 p.m. Thursday at Oklahoma City. USAO also is scheduled to play at 6 p.m. Friday against top-seeded OCU.
Rogers State is scheduled to play Oklahoma City at 6 p.m. Thursday and Mid-America Christian at 2 p.m. Friday.
The SAC Finals are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at OCU. The winner of the SAC Tournament receives an automatic bid to the 2013 NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round.