Tech Sweeps Doubleheader From Simpson
Tech's Travis Olson Tags Out Simpson's Josh Corson at Home Plate To End a
Simpson Rally (Photo by Kelly Caleb)
Klamath Falls, OR -- Oregon Tech's run toward the record book needed a come-from-behind victory Saturday that allowed the Hustlin' Owls to sneak past Simpson, 5-4, and complete a sweep of the four-game series.
Zach Earle's bases loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning plated Trent Smith to complete the comeback and lift the Hustlin' Owls to 18-6 in the NAIA West. With its 12-7 first-game victory, OIT also upped its season record to 26-19, the second most wins in a single season. More importantly, Saturday's sweep at Kiger Stadium leaves the
Hustlin' Owls one victory shy of clinching the southern division of the new NAIA West. A win would guarantee OIT a spot in the league playoffs. "That stuff is neat, but we're looking to do our job," OIT coach Matt Miles said of the chase to a possible school record for victories. The most wins in a single baseball season is 28, set in 1982. "From the very beginning of the season, our goal was to make the playoffs," Miles said. "We want to dominate the South, make the playoffs and see what happens. If we get there, pitch well three times, we'll be off to the regionals." First, OIT has to get there.
The Hustlin' Owls play a four-game series at Bethany in Scotts Valley, Calif., next weekend and then complete the regular season April 25-26 against Patten University. Two OIT wins or Patten losses sends the Owls to the NAIA West playoffs which, this year, will be played at home of the northern division champion. A big key to getting there is the addition of several new players, including Earle. "I've been struggling all weekend, so I knew I had to come up big for the team in that last inning," Earle said of his game-winning hit that allowed OIT to complete its league mark against Simpson at 80. The Red Hawks did win a non-league battle against OIT earlier this season. "I knew we had three outs to get something done (in the bottom of the ninth inning), and I just want to put a good swing on a good pitcher," Earle, one of 10 freshman on the OIT roster this season, said. "That was the first fastball I saw all week. "I know this is a better team than they've had in awhile (at OIT)," Earle said. "We've brought in a lot of new guys. Lee (Eklund and Cory) Spires went down (with injuries) this last weekend, and a bunch of guys stepped up." Miles agreed. "We needed to look for some others to come through for us and get the job done," Miles said of the injuries to Eklund and Spires. "What happened was that Nick Staller played excellent third base and scored a lot of runs," the coach said. "Kevin Conway only had about 20 at bats for us all season and he had three big hits. "Dustin Kim Seu had a great day (Saturday) and really came through for us. This was all about all of our young guys making a spot for themselves and playing well for us."
Among the highlights for the Owls was Ryson Mauricio's 12th home run of the season. That leaves him one short of the school record first set in 1982 and tied by Ryan Wilson in 2004. With 11 doubles over the weekend, and at least 10 games left to play, the Hustlin' Owls have obliterated the single-season record for doubles by a team. This weekend's 11 doubles pushed the season total to 90, and the old mark was 82. Patten, meanwhile, kept its playoff hopes alive with an 8-7, 9-8 sweep of Bethany Saturday. The two schools also had a doubleheader rained out Friday and it only will be made up if they are needed to determine the divisional champion.
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