OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA.—The McPherson College baseball team opened up their 2019 season, on the road this afternoon, in a pair of games at Mid-America Christian University, in Oklahoma City. The Bulldogs and Evangels split the first two games of the four game weekend series. McPherson win the opening game 8-3, but MACU came back win the second game 4-2 on a walk off homerun in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Both teams sent their "Ace" to the mound in game one. For the Evangels, that was 2018 Sooner Athletic Conference, pitcher of the year, Keisy Portorreal, and for the Bulldogs it was Garrett Ham, a transfer from Yuba College. Ham worked the first four and two-thirds, picking up the win in his Bulldog debut. He allowed just three runs on three hits, with two strikeouts and just one walk. As for the Evangel ace, the Bulldogs chased him from the game with four runs in the top of the fourth inning.
Offensively, the Bulldogs scored their eight runs on five hits, four walks, and four player hit by a pitch. The five hits by the Bulldogs were recorded by four different hitters. Catcher, Trevor Johnson was the only Bulldog to record multiple hits in the game. He finished 2-for-3 with a double, and four RBI. The other six hits were a single by Jakob Shields, and doubles by Kyle Lux and Lane Fleming.
Game one was pitchers dual through the first three innings. Neither team was able to crack the scoreless tie until the fourth inning. The Bulldogs started the scoring, putting up four runs in their half of the fourth inning and then the Evangels responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning, on a two run homerun. Each team then added another run to the scoreboard in the fifth inning, but were held off the scoreboard in the sixth. In the top of the seventh inning, the Bulldogs put up another crooked number, adding three more insurance runs to their total. The McPherson bullpen then did their job in the final half inning, holding MACU scoreless, securing the 8-3 victory.
The second game of the twinbill, was a defensive battle until the final half inning. The Bulldogs sent Dylan Marble to the bump for the start. Marble went the distance for the Bulldogs, allowing four runs, only one of them earned on seven hits. He fanned five and walked only one, but was collared with the loss. The Evangels sent left hander, Ben Donnell, to the hill, but despite pitching five and two-thirds strong innings, he got a no decision.
Donnell did a nice job of keeping the Bulldog hitters off balance, holding the visitors to two runs on five hits. Kristopher Perez swung the hot bat for the Bulldogs in game game, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a run scored. The three other Bulldog hits were singles by Shields and Johnson, and an RBI double by McCoy Pearce.
Mid-America opened game two, with a single run in the bottom of the first inning. The Bulldogs evened the game on Pearce's RBI double in the top of the third, when Perez came around to score, after swiping second base the play before. Three innings later, the Bulldogs took the lead 2-1 when Johnson scored on Shields' RBI single. Heading into the bottom of the seventh the Bulldogs remained on top 2-1. Unfortunately, things unraveled in final half inning. The Bulldogs had been perfect defensively throughout game two, but committed two errors on the first two plays in the seventh. With runners on first and second and no outs, the next Evangel hitter, ended the game on three run homerun to right center field.
Bulldog head coach, Bryan Moses, summed up the opening day split saying, "We got better today. These two games were intense throughout." In NAIA baseball, as your pitchers go, so your team goes. Moses lauded the play of his pitching staff on opening day commenting, "Our pitchers did a nice job today. They were down in the zone and commanded multiple pitches." He was also impressed with the offense especially against the MACU "ace" saying, "Our hitters were impressive against Portorreal who was the SAC pitcher of the year in 2018".
Losing game two the way they did was heart wrenching, but the good news is that the Bulldogs won't have long to dwell on it. They will get a chance to redeem themselves on Saturday when they will be back on diamond for another double header against the Evangels, scheduled for 12 p.m..