OCU's 2017 Sooner Athletic Conference baseball tournament champion
CHICKASHA, Okla. – Cory Linn delivered the winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning as top-ranked Oklahoma City University took the Sooner Athletic Conference baseball tournament title 15-14 over Texas Wesleyan on Monday at Bill Smith Ballpark.
The teams traded the lead three times before OCU prevailed for its 12th SAC Tournament championship. The Stars (45-8) secured the league's NAIA Championship Opening Round berth.
OCU hosts the NAIA Championship Opening Round Oklahoma City Bracket on May 15-18 at Jim Wade Stadium. Opening-round pairings will be announced Thursday. No. 12-ranked Texas Wesleyan (45-13) was seeking its first SAC Tournament title and first conference tournament crown since winning the Red River Athletic Conference Tournament in 2010.
In the ninth, the Stars rallied as Jared Baker knocked in two runs with a single to center field to tie the game 14-14. Shaun Corso drew a walk to load the bases before Linn smacked a base hit to left to touch off a celebration at first base. Oklahoma City swept both the SAC regular-season and tournament crowns.
OCU improved to 12-3 against ranked teams this season.
"One thing I'm really proud about this bunch is we were down three different times and made three different comebacks," said OCU coach Denney Crabaugh, who took the Stars to Jake's Rib for barbeque afterwards. "We could have quit especially when we get up and scored seven and turned around and gave it back up. We could have laid down, but we didn't. We could have laid down in the ninth when we gave up two runs, and we ended up coming back and winning. That's the mark of a good ballclub, and that's the mark of a championship club. That's where it's going to happen, it's that kind of faith, that kind of effort, kind of belief in ourselves to go onto the next round."
Luis Roman put Texas Wesleyan ahead 13-12 with a double in the top of the ninth. Roman scored on Casey Moses' grounder, building a 14-12 one-out Texas Wesleyan lead.
OCU tied the game 12-12 using Garrett Foster's ground ball to first base in the eighth.
Moses' grand slam highlighted Texas Wesleyan's seven-run inning in the sixth. Garrett Crook nailed an RBI double to put the Rams up 12-8. OCU answered in the bottom of the frame as Baker crushed a three-run homer.
The Stars piled up seven runs in the fifth as Branden Grieger hammered a three-run blast to left to give OCU an 8-5 lead. Corso smacked a two-run single to cut the Stars' deficit to 5-4, then Foster's RBI base hit knotted the game 5-5.
Texas Wesleyan went up 5-1 in the fourth, taking advantage of an OCU error. Blake Seaton had a run-scoring single in the fourth. Moses' RBI hit gave Texas Wesleyan a 3-0 third-inning lead. Kiki Menendez drove in the Rams' first two runs with a first-inning double and a third-inning hit.
Baker, a senior from Edmond, Okla., paced the Stars by driving in a career-high seven runs, scoring three times and homering twice in a 4-for-5 performance. During the tournament, Baker went 11-for-17 for a .647 batting average with a tournament-best 14 RBIs in four OCU wins.
"Those guys have carried us, and those are guys we want up when the game's on the line," Crabaugh said of Baker's and Linn's clutch hitting. "I'm happy for them, both seniors and all that."
Moses led Texas Wesleyan with six RBIs, going 3-for-6 with a stolen base. Moses picked up 12 RBIs in the tournament.
OCU equaled its season best with 18 hits for the fifth time this year. The Stars reached 15 runs for the ninth time this season. Grieger, a senior from Simi Valley, Calif., turned in a 4-for-5 day with a run scored and three runs driven in, while Joe Lytle, a junior from Yukon, Okla., went 3-for-5 with two runs scored.
Holden Lyons, a senior right-hander from Edmond, Okla., became the winning pitcher by working the final 1.2 innings. Lyons (2-0) took the victory in OCU's 2015 SAC Tournament title game win over Oklahoma Baptist. Andrew O'Brien was saddled with his first loss of the year.
Sooner Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament
At Oklahoma City
Jim Wade Stadium
Oklahoma City 11, Southwestern Assemblies of God (Texas) 5
Mid-America Christian 19, St. Gregory's 7
St. Gregory's 17, Southwestern Assemblies of God 1, Southwestern Assemblies of God eliminated
Oklahoma City 12, Mid-America Christian 10
St. Gregory's 10, Mid-America Christian 3, Mid-America Christian eliminated
Oklahoma City 11, St. Gregory's 6, St. Gregory's eliminated
At Chickasha, Okla.
Bill Smith Ballpark
Texas Wesleyan 9, Wayland Baptist (Texas) 5
USAO 2, Southwestern Christian 1
Wayland Baptist 5, Southwestern Christian 4, Southwestern Christian eliminated
USAO 9, Texas Wesleyan 1
Texas Wesleyan 13, Wayland Baptist 7, Wayland Baptist eliminated
Texas Wesleyan 8, USAO 4
Texas Wesleyan 14, USAO 9, USAO eliminated
At Chickasha, Okla.
Bill Smith Ballpark
Oklahoma City 15, Texas Wesleyan 14