By BRIAN JOHNSON
ECU Sports Information
ADA — Jay Neal’s RBI single up the middle scored Matt Stout from second base in the bottom of the eighth inning as the East Central University Tigers edged the Central Oklahoma Bronchos 4-3 Saturday in the first game of a Lone Star Conference North doubleheader at Tiger Field.
UCO compiled 14 hits and battled back for an 8-4 decision in the second game as the two teams settled for a split.
ECU went to 11-31 overall and 4-11 in the LSC North while the league-leading Bronchos moved to 30-14 and 12-3.
ECU 4, UCO 3
Clay Mack’s two-run homer in the sixth lifted the Tigers to a 3-1 advantage, but the Bronchos countered with a pair of runs in the seventh to ultimately force the extra inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Stout drew a lead-off walk off reliever and loser Cameron Karner (4-2). Stout stole second base to get himself into scoring position.
After Cody Carrier fouled out to the catcher, Neal ripped a 2-1 pitch up the middle. The sharp bouncer glanced off the glove of diving UCO second baseman Tim Sullivan for a single as Stout raced home for the game-winning run.
Ironically no Tiger had more than one hit in the game as the Bronchos out-hit ECU 8-6.
Matt Kennell (4-4) picked up the victory in relief of starter Chad Workman. Kennell pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing no hits and no walks while striking out one. Workman gave up all three runs (only two were earned) off eight hits with three walks and eight strikeouts in getting the no-decision.
Nathan Nance started on the hill for UCO and allowed three runs (two earned) off five hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts, despite not getting the decision.
The Bronchos’ catcher Miguel Moctezuma was the only multiple-hitter of the game, going 2-for-4 with a solo-homer to lead off the game on the first pitch and a run-scoring double in the seventh.
Moctezuma’s blast lifted UCO to the early 1-0 lead before the Tigers struck back with a run in the bottom half of that frame. Stout doubled and advanced to third off an error on the same play before Carrier’s sacrifice fly to right field, tied the game up at 1-1.
It remained that way until the sixth as Carrier led off with a double to left-center, moved to third on Neal’s sacrifice bunt and then scored when Mack hit his fourth homer of the year to make it 3-1.
Moctezuma’s double to right-center scored Bryan Belford and Bryce Columbus’ bad-hop double past first baseman Jason Wellington enabled the Bronchos to tie it up at 3-3 in the seventh.
Kennell, who came on to record the third out of the seventh, retired three of the four batters he faced in the eighth to set the stage for the win in the bottom half of that inning.
UCO 8, ECU 4
Marcus Lara (3-0) scattered eight hits through 6 1/3 innings.
Only two of the four Tiger runs were earned as he walked three and struck out four. Side-arm throwing Chris Elam came on to nail down his first save of the season.
Starter Logan Davis (3-5) worked five complete innings for the loss as he surrendered five runs (four earned) off 10 hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Aaron Iker, David Henley and Mack also saw mound duty for ECU.
Carrier ignited the Tigers’ eight-hit attack by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a run-scoring single. Teammates Greg Minter an Neal each went 2-for-4. Minter knocked in one run with a single in the second inning and Neal had a run-scoring single in the first.
After Columbus scored off an error in the top of the first, ECU countered with a runof its own in the bottom half of that frame as Carrier doubled with two outs and scored from second base when Neal followed with an RBI single.
The Tigers upped the count to 2-1 in the second as Tyler Pybas drew a lead-off walk, moved up to second on Gus Bordones’ sacrifice bunt and scored on Minter’s run-scoring single.
It remained 2-1 until the Bronchos broke it open with a four-run fourth with the highlight being a two-run homer by Sullivan. Columbus also had a run-scoring single in the inning after Moctezuma had doubled.
UCO piled on three more runs in the seventh to go up 8-2 as Bradon Blackburn hit a two-run single and Sullivan was credited with an RBI after being plucked with the bases loaded.
ECU picked up two unearned runs in the seventh as Minter scored on Carrier’s single and Stout raced home on the second error by the Bronchos in the inning.
The Tigers’ next action is Wednesday as they visit Cameron University in Lawton for a 2 p.m. LSC North doubleheader. ECU then goes to Tahlequah next weekend for a pair of LSC North games on Saturday at 2 p.m. and a single game on Sunday at 1 p.m.
By BRIAN JOHNSON