Connor Lynch hammered a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning to provide Oklahoma City University a 7-5 win over Oklahoma Baptist in the Sooner Athletic Conference baseball tournament championship Monday at Jim Wade Stadium in a clash of teams ranked in the top five of NAIA baseball.
The second-ranked Stars knocked off third-ranked Oklahoma Baptist 9-6 earlier Monday to force the winner-take-all championship. Both teams advance to the NAIA Championship Opening Round on May 12-15. OCU hosts the Oklahoma City Bracket, while OBU holds the Shawnee Bracket.
In the second game, Oklahoma Baptist erased Oklahoma City's 3-0 advantage with three runs in the seventh and two in the eighth. Jeff Ricker hit a sacrifice fly to right field to tie the game 3-3 in the seventh, and Cody Ziegler put OBU ahead 4-3 in the eighth with an RBI single to left.
Oklahoma City earned its 10th SAC Tournament crown and first since 2010. OCU's other conference tournament titles came in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010. Oklahoma Baptist, the SAC regular-season champ, entered the day attempting to repeat as conference tournament champions.
In the ninth, Joe Haddox reached base on a lead-off walk, and Adonis Askew followed by drawing a base on balls for OCU. Reggie Wilson bunted for a single to fill the bases.
With one out, Lynch launched an 0-1 pitch beyond the left-field wall to rally the Stars to a 7-5 advantage.
“On the home run, all I saw was a hanging curveball,” Lynch said. “I stayed tall and hit it with everything I had. After 17 long innings catching, I wanted to get a win for our team's hard work all week, and it felt amazing to say the least.”
The Stars battled back from an 11-9 loss to Wayland Baptist (Texas) on Saturday with four wins on Sunday and Monday.
“I have never been more proud of an OCU team performance than the one this team put on today against an outstanding OBU team,” OCU coach Denney Crabaugh said.
Lynch said, “The wins today show how deep our team is, and our pitchers are able to compete at the highest level on short rest. Carlos Chavez especially pitched amazingly today, and our team shows that they will do anything to win ballgames.”
Ryan Wright staked OCU to a 2-0 first-inning lead by belting a triple off the left-field wall. The Stars' Adam Clark added an RBI single to left in the sixth.
Holden Lyons of OCU earned the win in both games Monday to improve to 7-1 this year. Lyons, a sophomore right-hander from Edmond, Okla., worked the final two innings of the second game. Shakeel Newton drew a bases-loaded walk to put OBU up 5-3 in the eighth, but Lyons struck out Keach Ballard to retire the side.
In the bottom of the ninth, Joey Szczepanski singled to put the tying run on base for OBU. Lyons got Colt Bickerstaff on a groundout to second base for the second out, but the Bison advanced runners to second and third. OCU clinched the victory when Lyons retired Felipe Gonzalez on a grounder to OCU second baseman Hunter Marcum, who threw to first baseman J.J. Bissell for the last out.
Carlos Chavez started on the mound for OCU and allowed two runs on two hits, a walk and two hit batsmen in six innings. Chavez, a junior righty from Rio Rancho, N.M., fanned eight after logging 126 pitches in OCU's 5-3 win over Texas Wesleyan on Friday. Chavez stayed perfect through 3.1 innings before Ballard hit a single to right. When Chavez retired his 10th batter in a row, Wilson tracked down Shakeel Newton's fly ball, then kept the ball in his glove despite colliding with the center-field wall.
Wright, a senior from Fruitland, Idaho, went 3-for-4 with a run scored and a two-run triple, while Marcum, a junior from Purcell, Okla., was 2-for-2 with a walk and a double for the Stars. Jared Baker, a sophomore from Edmond, Okla., went 2-for-4 with a stolen base.
Landon Coon led Oklahoma Baptist by going 3-for-5. Les Northcutt fanned eight in eight innings while recording 143 pitches for Oklahoma Baptist.
In the first game, Oklahoma City erased a 3-0 fifth-inning deficit and a 6-5 seventh-inning hole. Baker provided the Stars the winning run with a base hit to left-center as part of six two-out hits in the bottom of the eighth.
Clark knotted the game 6-6 by singling to left. Marcum crushed an RBI double into the deep corner of left field, then Wilson's run-scoring hit to right put OCU in front 9-6.
The Stars plated five runs in the sixth. Lynch drew a bases-loaded walk, then Askew tacked on an RBI single into right field. Clark gave OCU the lead on a two-run single to right-center, and Baker drove in a run on a base hit to right.
Coon had a single to right to give Oklahoma Baptist a 3-0 fifth-inning lead. Szczepanski supplied OBU a 6-5 seventh-inning edge by nailing a three-run double to left.
Lyons kept OBU off the scoreboard the final 2.1 innings. Lyons allowed one hit while striking out three.
Clark, a senior from St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, went 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBIs, and Baker, a sophomore from Edmond, Okla., was 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs for OCU. Marcum scored twice and doubled.
Szczepanski went 2-for-4 with four RBIs for the Bison. Coon was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a double and an RBI, while Newton, Yariel Gonzalez and Jeff Ricker had two hits each for OBU.
Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament
At Oklahoma City
Jim Wade Stadium
Oklahoma Baptist 7, Southwestern Christian 2
Wayland Baptist 7, USAO 5
Oklahoma City 5, Texas Wesleyan 3
Southwestern Christian 6, Texas Wesleyan 1, Texas Wesleyan eliminated
Oklahoma Baptist 5, USAO 1, USAO eliminated
Wayland Baptist 11, Oklahoma City 9
Oklahoma Baptist 17, Wayland Baptist 2
Oklahoma City 14, Southwestern Christian 7, Southwestern Christian eliminated
Oklahoma City 7, Wayland Baptist 3, Wayland Baptist eliminated
Oklahoma City 9, Oklahoma Baptist 6
Oklahoma City 7, Oklahoma Baptist 5, championship
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