No. 4 UBC Sneaks by Tech 5-4, 7-6
Vancouver, BC - A walk-off two run double by the UBC Thunderbirds' fourth-year short stop Sammie Starr helped the home side sweep the Oregon Tech Hustlin' Owls 5-4 and 7-6 on seniors' day at Thunderbird Park.
Starr made the last Thunderbird Park at-bat of his NAIA career count, as he capped off a five-run bottom of the seventh for UBC by driving a double into the left field corner. Christian Jolley scored the tying run from second and Alex White scored the winning run all the way from first, giving the 'Birds the sweep as they honoured their graduating seniors at their last regular season home game of the year.
"The one thing I'll say for Sammy is that through his whole career in big games on the national stage or like this one right here, he is clutch and with the game on the line, he is the guy I'd pick to have up at the plate," said UBC head coach Terry McKaig.
It was a huge win for UBC, as they move to 25-2 in conference play on the year with only their series against the College of Idaho remaining. They are currently three games up on Idaho, so they need just one win in their four-game series to clinch home field advantage for the NAIA West tournament.
Oregon Tech is now 17-13 in conference play.
Things weren't looking so good for the T-Birds heading into their last turn on offence in the seven-inning game. They had managed two runs on just one hit through 5.1 innings against Oregon Tech starter Darryl Swearingen, and were trailing 6-2 as Andrew Firth stepped into the box to lead off the seventh. Firth walked, which began a parade around the bases for the T-Birds. Four of their first five hitters walked against reliever Dylan Bedortha, and Zack O'Hanen fared no better when he took over. He walked another batter to put the winning run on base, and then after picking up the second out of the inning, he gave up the game-winning double to Starr.
"This isn't the first time our team has done that this year and there's something to be said for that," McKaig said. "As bleak as it might look, these kids believe and we just kept grinding out those at-bats at the end there."
The T-Birds finished with seven runs on just three hits in the game, but nine walks turned out to be the difference. Taylor King picked up the win by pitching a scoreless seventh inning for UBC. Shawn Hetherington threw three scoreless innings in relief for the 'Birds.
Game one was almost the opposite story for the T-Birds, but they were able to hang on for a win after almost blowing a four-run lead. Starr, Nic Lendvoy and Mike Elias all had RBIs in a four-run third inning for UBC, which put them up 5-1 at the time. Zack Earle and Kory Locken came right back with RBIs for the Owls in the top of the fourth, and the visitors added one more in the ninth on a throwing error, but Mark Hardy shut the door for UBC to pick up his second save of the weekend.
Dan Britton-Foster picked up the win in game one after relieving starter Eric Brown midway through the fourth. Britton-Foster went 3.2 innings and struck out four while giving up just one hit and no runs. Hardy allowed just the one unearned run and two hits over the final two innings of the game.
The Owls finish up their regular season schedule on the road against top-ranked Lewis Clark State.
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