Claremore Daily Progress

Sports Columnists

May 30, 2012

'Seventh Heaven'

Tyler Brown's spirit lives on inside RSU dugout

CLAREMORE — With every pitch and every swing of the bat, the "Spirit of Tyler Brown" continues to carry the Rogers State University baseball team in the NAIA Division I World Series.

The Hillcats — or shall we say the "Cardiac Cats" — take a piece of their former teammate with them every time they step inside the dugout, the batter's box or the diamond.

His initials "T.B. #23" are inscribed on the back of their caps, and even one player — pitcher Kyle Duncan — has Tyler Brown's signature tattooed on his body.

It's the love for their fallen teammate and former Berryhill All-State baseball player that has these Hillcats not wanting to give up in Lewiston, Idaho.

For the past five World Series games, the Hillcats have found their backs against the wall, only to achieve four victories using a clutch hit, an 18-strikeout performance or a pair of solid defensive plays in center field.

On Wednesday, though, all it took in the bottom of the seventh inning, was a constant touch of Tyler Brown's No. 23 jersey hanging in the Hillcats dugout to know their teammate was behind them late in the game.

Trailing 5-3, the "Cardiac Cats" rallied behind Brown's spirit and tied the game on Eric Baker's 2-RBI double to the gap in left-center field. It was Baker's second-straight two-run double and his third hit of the game that electrified the 'Cats rally in the seventh inning.

Moments later, Colton Campbell gave the 'Cats the lead for good at 6-5 on an RBI-double to left field that plated Baker. One batter later, Lance Rymel's one-out RBI-single plated the much-needed insurance run and RSU was rockin' and rollin' with a 7-5 lead and six outs away from their first-ever berth in the NAIA Division I National Championship.

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