OKLAHOMA CITY (April 8, 2014) – Two years ago, Oklahoma City University beat Oklahoma Christian by a combined 44-4 in a three-game series between the longtime rivals.
Those roles were reversed on a breezy Tuesday night at Dobson Field. This time, it was the Eagles who scored early and often and rolled to a 14-3 win over OCU, a squad ranked No. 12 in the NAIA.
OC (21-12) led 9-0 after three innings against the Stars and after that, it was just a matter of how large the Eagles’ margin of victory would be. Still, OC coach Lonny Cobble has too much respect for OCU (25-12) to gloat about such a lopsided win, especially considering the teams will play against next Tuesday – across town on the Stars’ home field.
“Those guys have been one of the top teams, not only in Oklahoma, but in the country,” Cobble said. “They’ve been a measuring stick for everybody. I thought our guys came out focused tonight and excited to play these guys on a Tuesday night. We had a pretty good crowd out. I was pretty pleased with the way we played.
“You have to beat teams like that on a consistent basis if you want to be considered among the elite. I consider those guys one of the elite teams in the country. … If you can beat OCU, you’ve done something. That’s definitely a quality win.”
The Eagles –ranked eighth in the NCAA Division II South Central Region – had many offensive stars. Blake Stringer went 4-for-5 with five RBIs, a double and four runs scored, reigning Heartland Conference hitter of the week Caden Cleveland went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, three runs scored, a double and a home run. A.J. Florence went 3-for-4 and scored four runs, while Markus Carr, Cody Rosecrans and Garrett Stephenson had two hits each.
Stringer’s two-run single keyed a four-run first-inning outburst for OC. The Eagles made it 5-0 in the second against OCU starter Cale Russell (4-2), who didn’t make it out of the third inning after giving up four more runs, three of those scoring on Cleveland’s home run that made it 9-0.
“I think we got off on the right foot in the first inning, getting a four-spot, then another one in the second and another four in the third,” Cobble said. “The guys kind of relaxed and had some fun and played good baseball. When they do that, they’re a pretty good ballclub.
“A lot of guys hit the ball hard against a really good ballclub. The thing is, OCU is capable of doing something like that to us in a week, so we’ve really got to come in and just keep playing well and doing a great job.”
The Stars picked up a pair of runs in the fourth off OC starter Kelby Reneau, who otherwise was effective in four innings of work. OC answered with another four-run inning in the fifth, with Stringer delivering another two-run single and Stephenson adding his second run-scoring single.
After Reneau, the Eagles used five relief pitchers, who each threw one inning, including Garrett Guys (2-1), who picked up the win after throwing a scoreless seventh inning.
“Kelby did a really great job and that’s what we wanted to see,” Cobble said. “We wanted to get him back in the action and make sure that the back was going to be OK. He threw an inning last week and felt good but we wanted to extend him a little bit tonight, just to make sure everything’s OK and I thought he threw four pretty good innings.”