Miguel Beltran, Chad Carmen, and Jonathan Sigado made sure on Friday night people don't forget that Oklahoma City has the bats to go with its strong pitching staff .
All three hit home runs to back the pitching of Rich Hawkins and Ryan Gibson and help third-seed Oklahoma City University defeat No. 6 seed Lewis-Clark State 7-2 in the final game of the opening round of the Avista NAIA World Series at LCSC's Harris Field.
OCU entered the series with the focus on its pitching staff, which threw three straight shutouts and allowed only two runs over the last 36 innings at its NAIA Opening Round tournament. And while Hawkins and Gibson didn't disappoint, it was the power surge OCU put on that stole Friday's show.
Beltran hit his team-leading 26th home run on the season, a three-run shot in the third inning, to give OCU the lead for good. Carmen hit a two-run blast in the top of the ninth inning for insurance, while Sigado put the Stars on the board in the second inning with a solo home run. In all, six of OCU's seven runs came via the long ball.
Hawkins, a senior left-hander, struggled early in the game, but then allowed only two hits after the third inning to improve to 12-2 on the season. Trailing 5-2, LCSC put runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the eighth, but Gibson came on to strikeout the next two batters. He then retired the side in order in the ninth.
The win gives the Stars (48-10) a pair of days off. OCU receives a bye on Saturday and will play Monday at 6:30 p.m. against the winner of Saturday's Lee-Point Park contest.
LCSC, which was playing its first game in 19 days, fell to 42-12 on the season and now faces the tough task of having to win six straight games to claim its 17th national title. LCSC faces fellow NAIA West member College of Idaho in loser-out play at noon on Saturday.
Despite the layoff, it was the Warriors who struck first in the contest with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Connor Moore started the rally with a one out walk and moved to second when a grounder to third hit by Trent Bridges was thrown away by Oklahoma City third baseman Jonathan Sigado. A single by Alfonso Casillas scored Moore and the Warriors loaded the bases on a single by Braxton Miller. Hawkins got out of the jam with a fly out to short center and a strikeout.
Sigado made up for his throwing error in the top of the second when he smacked a two-out solo home run, his fourth of the season.
OCU then took the lead for good in the top of the third with help from a couple of LCSC errors. Brian Fisher reached first on a wild throw by LCSC third baseman Billy Silvestri on a grounder, but he was forced out at second on a ground ball by Cody Ferrell. Chris Munoz then singled, but Carman lined out for the second out. Fisher moved up to third on another Warrior error, but it was Beltran's three-run home run that cleared the bases and put the Stars ahead 4-1.
The Warriors cut the lead to 4-2 in the third when Kyle Knigge, who struck out with the bases loaded in the first, came through with the bases loaded and one out in the third. But bad baserunning cost the Warriors' from scoring more. Knigge hit a shot over Ferrell's head in center field, but Miller, who was on second, didn't get a good jump on the ball because he thought it would be caught. OCU took advantage of his hesitation and was able to throw him out at the plate.
Pitching dominated the next four innings as the two teams combined for only three hits. Each team had only one baserunner reached as far as second.
OCU made it 5-2 in the top of the eight. Beltran started the rally with a two-out double and was replaced by a pinch-runner. A walk and a hit batter loaded the bases and an infield single by Sigado drove in the run.
After Ferrell was hit by a pitch in the top of the ninth, Carman smacked his 11th home run of the season and 91st of the season for the Stars.
Sigado finished 3-for-4 with two RBI for the Stars, while Beltran was 2-for-5 with three RBI. Carmen went 2-for-5 with two RBI. In all, the three had seven of the team's nine hits and all seven RBI.
LCSC, which left six of its nine base runners stranded in the first three innings, had two hits apiece from Miller and Silvestri. Starting pitcher Michael Noteware pitched a complete game, allowing nine hits and four earned runs. He struck out nine and walked one.