Pioneers rally to win 13-12 thriller over No. 4 OCU

Pioneers rally to win 13-12 thriller over No. 4 OCU
Wayland Baptist Baseball logo (sourece: Wayland Baptist Athletics)

(KCBD) - Information provided by Wayland Baptist Athletics

After fourth-ranked Oklahoma City stole the first two games of their Sooner Athletic Conference series with Wayland Baptist on Friday, the Stars were on the verge of pulling off the sweep Saturday afternoon at Wilder Field.

Apparently, turnabout is fair play in baseball.

The 12th-ranked Pioneers scored nine runs in the final three innings, the last on a walk-off, RBI-infield single by Austin Moya that lifted Wayland to an unlikely but very much uplifting 13-12 victory over OCU.

It was a dramatic end to a series that saw Wayland in position to win the first two games. Instead, OCU rallied to score five runs in the fifth and take the opener, 9-6, before scoring six in the seventh inning of game two and win it, 7-5.

Saturday was the Pioneers' turn to go home happy.

Wayland (16-5, 7-2) trailed 7-4 after six innings only to score four in the seventh – three on a home run by Jonathan Ottenwalder – to take an 8-7 lead. It was short-lived, though, as the Stars answered with four big runs in the eighth to go back on top, 11-8.

Thanks to Gregg Veneklasen's second two-run homer of the game, the Pioneers managed to get two runs back in the bottom of the eighth to trail by just one going into the final frame. After OCU tacked on a run in its final at-bat, the Pioneers were down to their last shot.

Ottenwalder produced hope with a lead-off ground-rule double. Pinch-hitter Paxton Covel immediately drove him home with a single through the right side before Brendon Foust delivered a double to right-center.

Pinch-hitter Derek Farmer was intentionally walked to load the bases and bring up another pinch-hitter, freshman Jared Rodriguez. On an 0-2 count, the seldom-used freshman – who had just two previous at-bats and no RBIs all season – came through with a sacrifice fly to center that scored pinch runner Braeden Bomer, and just like that it was tied.

But there was still work to do.

After Preston Rackley entered as a pinch runner for Foust at third and top-of-the-order Yaniel Vargas was intentionally walked to again load the bases, WBU freshman centerfielder Austin Moya set off a wild celebration when his chopper was too much for OCU shortstop Jacob Chappell to handle, allowing Rackley to score the game-winner.

The win ended a three-game slide for Wayland that started after the Pioneers entered the NAIA Top 25 with what was their highest ranking in a decade.

The game featured 11 pitchers, seven for Wayland including starter Juan Arroyo, who went four innings, and Matt Flores, who started the contest at second base. Earning the win was freshman Chris Lacher, who faced just one batter and coaxed an inning-ending double-play, the fourth of the game and seventh of the weekend for Wayland.

The teams combined for 31 hits – 16 by Wayland, 15 for OCU – and nine home runs – six by OCU, five by Wayland. Moya, Ottenwalder, Foust and Gregg Veneklasen all provided three hits apiece, with two of Veneklasen's going over the fence. Veneklasen, who along with Ottenwalder ended with four RBIs, has five homers in his last four games and seven in his last eight. For the season he has 11 to lead the NAIA.

It was WBU's 15th win in 90 games against OCU, although Wayland it 7-8 against the Stars in the last five years.

The Pioneers take a break from SAC play and start Spring Break week with a trip to San Antonio to face Our Lady of the Lake (9-16) in a three-game set starting with a doubleheader at 4 p.m. Monday. The Pioneers are back home and back to conference action next weekend against Southwestern Christian (13-7, 6-4), beginning with a double-dip at 4 p.m. Friday.