CHICKASHA – It was a bittersweet day for the University of Science and Arts as more records fell, and the team convincingly upset 18th-ranked Southern Nazarene 5-1 in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader.
An extra-inning 10-6 loss in game two, though, gave SNU the series and kept the Drovers in fifth place in the league.
Led by six strikeouts from junior lefty Nate Hammons and two home runs from junior catcher Luke Krobath, the Drovers were looking good in their attempt to move into third place in the conference standings.
Hammons scattered five hits and gave up one earned run in a complete-game win. The Fort Cobb native needed only three strikeouts to set a new USAO season record. He now has 80 strikeouts this season and the all-time USAO strikeout record of 143 and counting.
With two home runs in game one Saturday, Krobath had three bombs in three consecutive at bats against SNU dating back to his two-run shot in the top of the ninth Thursday. He has six homers on the season.
After a perfect first inning from Hammons in game one, Krobath gave USAO a 1-0 lead with his first home run of the game. Hammons gave up a home run in the fourth inning to tie the score 1-1, but USAO responded with a run in the bottom half.
Josh Moore was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on an error. He scored the go ahead run on a single by Brad Sylvester. Krobath started the scoring in the fifth with a two-run homer. Another RBI single from Sylvester scored Joe Burnell to make the final margin.
Hammons improved to 8-3 on the season and needs one more win to tie the school record for wins in a season. Teammate Caleb Martin also needs only one win to reach the record of nine after suffering a 6-5 loss at SNU in game one of the series.
Game two was a yo-yo affair that saw USAO take control after three runs in the first inning only to have SNU take the lead in the third. USAO rallied to tie the score in the fifth, but the Crimson Storm scored four in the ninth.
Kai Kirby scored on a Carby single to start the game, and Carby scored on a two-run homer by Brandt Lierle. Lierle’s 19th bomb added to his season record and inched him closer to the career record of 31 held by Trey Palacol. The Hydro senior now has 30 career home runs.
SNU loaded the bases in the second and got a sacrifice fly and a double to tie the game at 3-3. A Carby single in the bottom of the second scored Kirby, again, and USAO took a 4-3 lead. Carby finished 4-for-7 on the day and improved upon his team-leading .459 batting average.
A three-run home run in the third gave SNU a 6-4 lead until the fifth when Lierle singled home Carby, and Burnell singled home Shea Hall to tie the score 6-6. Lierle’s RBI single gave him 140 career RBIs and the new school record formerly held by recent USAO Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Hayden Herrin.
Neither team threatened to score in extra innings until the top of the ninth when SNU cranked out four hits and four runs to take a 10-6 lead. The Drovers posted three strikeouts in the bottom of the ninth to it.
Ricky Duke got the loss and fell to 6-4 on the season after striking out five batters in 8 1/3 innings.
USAO moved to 32-12 overall and 14-10 in the league. The win tied for most in school history, but the Drovers find themselves still a half game back of Wayland Baptist in the standings.
After a Monday game in Wichita, Kan., against Friends University, conference play continues with a nine-inning game at 2 p.m. Thursday against No. 2 Oklahoma City.
The series wraps up at OCU Saturday beginning at 1 p.m., and the home schedule concludes April 30 against Northwestern Oklahoma. First pitch is 2 p.m.