The Rogers State baseball team stayed perfect on the first day of the NAIA Opening Round-Claremore Bracket at the Diamond Sports Complex on the RSU Campus.
The Hillcats tallied two of the three wins on the day on Thursday. The No.4-seeded Hillcats took an early lead in the opening game against the fourth seed Midland (Neb.). However, the Warriors took over the advantage and the Cats had to claw their way to an 8-4 victory. In the final game of the day, RSU upset top-seeded Lubbock Christian (Texas), 7-5. The Hillcats tallied a six-run lead over their Sooner Athletic Conference foe in the first four innings of play and held on for the victory.
RSU senior Eric Baker led off the bottom of the first with a single to right field. A sacrifice bunt by Hector Rivera and a ground out by Jose Olazagasti moved Baker to third base. Colton Campbell drove Baker home with a double in the right-center gap and scored on a single by Tyler Wheeler. RSU tacked on a third run in the in the second as Blake Heston scored on a wild pitch.
The Warriors dented the scoreboard in the third with one run on two hits and plated a trio of runs over the next two innings to take a 4-3 lead. The Midland lead was short-lived as the Hillcats rallied with three runs. Emmanuel De La Cruz belted a two-RBI single to deep right field and Brandon Bargas followed with a squeeze bunt for a base hit to give RSU a 6-4 advantage.
The Hillcats pushed the lead to 8-4 with two runs on an error by the Warriors. RSU shut down Midland in the final two innings to secure the win.
Shawn Spainhoward (8-4) registered the complete-game win on the mound for RSU. He allowed four runs on 10 hits with 12 strikeouts. Dylan Stockton (8-3) suffered the loss as he allowed six runs, five earned, on six hits in 5.1 innings of work.
Baker was the lone Hillcat to register multiple hits in the game as he went 2-for-5 and score one run.
The Hillcats topped the No. 4-ranked Chaps for the first time this season on Thursday night. Despite leaving 10 bases runners stranded, RSU was able to come away with an upset victory over the top-seeded Chaps.
RSU took the lead in the second inning, compiling three runs on three hits. Wheeler drew a walk to start the inning, Cody Campbell single and both moved into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt by Blake Heston. An infield single by De La Cruz allowed Wheeler to score and Keith Poverud belted a two RBI doubled to the wall in left-centerfield, giving the Cats a 3-0 lead.
The Chaps had an opportunity to post a run in the bottom of the second but SAC Gold Glove centerfielder Eric Baker turned a sacrifice fly into a double play as he fired the ball from center field to home plate just in time for RSU catcher De La Cruz to tag the LCU runner out at home plate.
The Diamond Cats doubled their advantage in the fourth. Heston reached on a LCU error and De La Cruz doubled to put runners in scoring position. Poverud followed with a ground ball to second base. LCU second baseman Brennyn Smith threw home , attempting to throw Heston out at the plate, but the throw was not in time as Heston slide feet first into home, knocking the ball out of the catcher’s glove. The next play was identical as Baker hit a ground ball to second and LCU elected to throw home but once again the speedy Hillcat base runners prevailed as Alex Cochran slide into home plate before being tagged. Rivera rounded out the scoring in the inning with a RBI single, pushing the RSU lead to 6-0.
LCU got on the board in the fifth with a RBI single by Brandon Wilson. The Chaps made things interesting in the eighth with a trio of runs, cutting the deficit to 6-4. RSU managed one run in the top of the ninth but left three runners stranded to end the inning.
The Chaps tallied consecutive hits to plate one run but Bargas forced a double play to end the game, giving RSU the 7-5 win.
Bargas (8-5) tallied the win on the mound for the Cats. The southpaw allowed five runs, four earned, on 10 hits with eight strikeouts. Jack Mabe (7-3) suffered the loss after tossing the first four innings giving up six runs, five earned, on nine hits with one strikeout.
De La Cruz registered five RBI between the two games while Poverud tallied three RBI in the nightcap.
Rogers State (33-22) will return to action on Friday as the Hillcats take on third seeded Lyon (Ark.) at 2:30 p.m.