STEPHENVILLE – The Tarleton Baseball team played with a renewed sense of determination Saturday afternoon and it was on full display as the Texans refused to settle for anything less than a doubleheader sweep of Oklahoma Christian.
Game 1: Tarleton 13, Oklahoma Christian 12
The first game of Saturday’s twin bill flashed terrible memories of a loss earlier in the season as the Texans surrendered a 10-3 lead in the top of the seventh to trail 12-10 heading into the final frame.
The February 29 version of the Texans were determined to rewrite the script and did just that as the Texans answered the Oklahoma Christian rally with three in the bottom of the seventh to walk off winners in the first game 13-12.
Hunter Thomas was spectacular through the first four innings as he kept the Eagles off the board while the offense provided a three-run lead through the fourth. Tyler Fowler led off the game with a home run and an RBI grounder from Luke Morton and a run-scoring wild pitch in the fourth extended the lead to three.
After the Eagles got on the board, Tarleton struck for for six in the bottom of the fifth – an RBI grounder from Fowler, a two-run double from Blake Burns and a three-run jack from Ian Groves, who was forced to inherit a 2-2 count after pinch-hitting late in the count. The Eagles added two and Tarleton tacked on one in the sixth to send the game into the seventh with Tarleton leading 10-3.
Oklahoma Christian found holes all over diamond to score nine runs and nine hits and invoke reminiscences of an earlier weekend loss in Stephenville.
Tarleton had an answer this day.
Cody Vannoy sparked the rally with a one-hit single up the middle. Dean Frew survived a full-count to coax a walk after a controversial no-call on a catcher’s interference extended his stay in the box and then Jordan Parker followed with a walk, as well, to load the bases.
Wade Raburn drove in one and moved two runners into scoring position with an RBI groundout to second to bring up Tyler Fowler with two away. The senior captain finished what he started by driving the game-winning, two-run single into right for the walk-off win.
Fowler enjoyed a two-hit performance to bookend the game – the leadoff home run and the walk-off single – while Blake Burns, Vannoy and Reed Hamilton also had two-hit performances. Corey Young, Groves, Frew and Raburn had one hit each.
Hunter Thomas had a no decision and 6.0 innings pitched with nine strikeouts and no walks. Michael Pilato got two outs in the seventh and Luke Baley finished it off. Baley got the win to improve to 4-1.
Game 2: Tarleton 9, Oklahoma Christian 5
In the nightcap, Tarleton scored in every inning while Tyler Thompson delivered four innings of strong relief to complete the doubleheader sweep.
Tarleton put up solo runs in each of the first three innings on RBI at bats from Burns, Frew and Young. The Texans also scored solo runs in the fifth and sixth on Eagle miscues. The big inning of the game was the four-run fourth.
Tarleton got RBI singles from Jake Spence and Frew before Zach Mesa ripped an RBI double to the right center gap. Young capped off the inning with an RBI grounder to short.
Meanwhile, the Eagles scored three runs in the first three innings and two over the final four frames. Baley got the start and went 2.2 innings before turning things over to John Bridgeman for one out. Tyler Thompson came on in relief and threw a season-best four innings, allowing three runs – one earned – on three hits and no walks while striking out four.
The Texans and Eagles will conclude the series tomorrow at 1 p.m. in Stephenville.