Werdel, Burgess lift Eagles to split against Nebraska Wesleyan

Chris Burgess tied an OC single-season record by recording his sixth save in a win over Nebraska Wesleyan.
Chris Burgess tied an OC single-season record by recording his sixth save in a win over Nebraska Wesleyan.

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 22, 2013) – On a day on which Oklahoma Christian managed only two runs in a doubleheader against Nebraska Wesleyan, the Eagles salvaged a split thanks to the pitching of Brock Werdel and Chris Burgess.

Werdel allowed four hits in six innings, then Burgess struck out the side to record his record-tying sixth save of the season to lift OC past Nebraska Wesleyan 2-1 on a chilly Friday afternoon at Dobson Field.

In the opener, the Prairie Wolves eaked out a run in the seventh and OC left two runners on base in the fifth and sixth innings, allowing Nebraska Wesleyan to win 1-0.

OC (17-11) was able to generate little offense in either game, but had just enough in the second game.

Nebraska Wesleyan (5-6) led 1-0 after J.J. Thaut singled with two outs in the second inning, went to second base on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Chris Johnson.

Heath Steele tied the game for the Eagles with his first home run of the season, a shot over the right-field wall in the fourth inning off Nebraska Wesleyan starter Matt Schommer (0-2). OC took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning, as Markus Carr doubled to left field with one out, went to third on a single by Caleb Price and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Blake Stringer.

Werdel (3-1) allowed four hits, walked one and struck out three in six innings before giving way to Burgess, who overpowered the Prairie Wolves in the seventh. Burgess tied the OC single-season saves record set by James Crossley in 1993.

Evan Draper, Garrett Stephenson and Carr each had a pair of hits for OC.

Tyler Sturges (4-2) took a hard-luck pitching loss for the Eagles in the opener, allowing only five hits in a complete-game outing in which he struck out nine. During one stretch, Sturges retired 12 straight batters.

Unfortunately for Sturges, Nebraska Wesleyan starter Ryan Dolezal (1-2) also was on top of his game, tossing a four-hitter with four strikeouts.

Still, OC had its chances. In the fifth, Caden Cleveland reached on a two-out bloop single to right field and Stephenson followed with a hit-and-run single that sent Cleveland to third. Stephenson stole second, putting two runners in scoring position. But Nebraska Wesleyan right fielder Matt Honerman speared a sinking line drive by Cory Eastwood to end the threat.

In the sixth, a single by Price and an error that allowed Carr to reach gave OC two baserunners with no outs, but the Eagles couldn’t advance them.

Nebraska Wesleyan had three of its five hits in the seventh. Beau Kelly led off with a double to right. Justin Van Dyke sacrificed him to third and Thaut singled through a drawn-in infield to score Kelly. Johnson followed with a single but Sturges fanned the Prairie Wolves’ next two batters.

Dolezal retired the Eagles in order in the bottom of the seventh.