SHAWNEE – Late home runs were the decisive factor in the Drovers’ 13-5 win in Sunday’s Sooner Athletic Conference tournament game against Mid-America Christian.
The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma (27-22) overtook the Evangels (14-34) in the final game of the season for both teams.
“It’s nice to end the tournament with a win,” Head Coach Mike Ross said. “I told them before the game that this was important; that they are playing for pride and to go out and get it done today.”
With both teams battling for their seniors and to end the season on a high note, the game went back and forth until the sixth inning when the Drover offense exploded with three homers and six runs.
But it was the Evangels who led off the scoring in the top of the first. The run scored with an RBI double by Logan Glasgow but the Drovers limited the damage by throwing him out in an attempt to stretch it to a triple.
In the bottom of the first, USAO tied it up at one apiece when Jaime Gurrola hit an RBI single to score Ryan Wescott from second base.
The next two innings, the Drovers added one run in each to grab the 3-1 lead off miscues by MACU pitching as both runs scored on wild pitches. Eddie Malone and Gurrola scored on those plays.
Mid-America Christian then found some timely hitting with two well-placed doubles to tie the game back up at three apiece in the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, a solo home run by Chris Musick, his fourth of the season, again put the Drovers on top.
In the top of the next inning, MACU’s RBI single tied the game for a third and final time.
The Drovers distanced themselves from their opponent in the sixth inning with three home runs.
First, Francisco Bolanos hit a two-run homer into the Drovers’ bullpen in left field to give USAO a 6-4 advantage.
The home run, followed by subsequent singles, forced a MACU pitching change. But the first pitch out of the bullpen by Chevin Noone was hit out of the park by USAO’s Gurrola for three RBIs. From the moment he made contact with the ball, there was no doubt it was heading out of the park. The hit gave him four runs batted in on the day on 2-for-4 hitting.
Two batters later, Cody Rieger made it a 10-4 advantage on a solo home run to left center to finish out the six-run bottom of the sixth.
MACU scored one more in the seventh, but a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning by Warren Stehn added three more to USAO’s tally. Also scoring on the play were Wescott and Musick, who each had three runs in the game.
“Some of the seniors had a pretty good day today,” Ross said. “Wescott made a diving catch and threw someone out at the plate. Rieger ended his career with a home run. It was good to see them succeed today.”
Josh Terrell pitched the first six innings for the Drovers, striking out three batters. Jason England, Kevin Royer and Brad Smith each took an inning on the mound to finish off the game for USAO.
With the USAO win, top-seeded Oklahoma Baptist, a team that also tops in the NAIA rankings, clinched their spot in the SAC Championship game. The SAC Championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at Oklahoma City University.