Hillcats Walk-Off with Win Over Bison, 5-4
HUTCHINSON, Kan.-The third-seeded Rogers State baseball team used extra inning heroics to advance to the championship game at the NAIA Opening Round as the Hillcats defeated top-seeded Oklahoma Baptist, 5-4, in 11 innings at Hobart-Detter Field in Hutchinson, Kan. on Friday afternoon.
OBU left a runner stranded on second base in both the 10th and 11th innings. OBU closer Jesus Carlos faced the minimum in the 10th however; the Hillcats put runners on in the bottom of the 11th. Rivera led off the inning with a single through the right side of the infield and Colton Campbell followed with a walk. With no outs and the game-winning run at second, the contest was postponed for 45 minutes due to a rain/lightning delay. When play resumed, Sean Simonz took the mound for the Bison and registered a quick out, getting Rymel to pop out to third. Cody Campbell delivered the game-winning RBI in the next at-bat as he drilled the ball up the middle and Rivera scored from second to win the game, 5-4.
RSU left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first and the Bison made the Cats pay for it in the top of the second as senior Daniel Baptista led off the inning with a first pitch blast over the right field fence. It was the first home run starting pitcher Brandon Bargas had given up all year. Michael Cerda followed with a single through the left side of the infield and scored on a double by Jordan Newton, giving OBU a 2-0 lead.
The Bison added to their advantage in the third as they loaded the bases with one out and pushed a run across home plate with a sacrifice fly to right-center field by Cerda.
The Hillcats battled back in the bottom of the frame as Hector Rivera ignited the offense with a leadoff infield single. Colton Campbell followed and was hit by a pitch and Lance Rymel drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases. Cody Campbell drove the ball through the right side of the infield, plating two runs to cut the Hillcat deficit to 3-2.
After a trio of scoreless innings, the Bison tacked on a run in the top of the seventh. Greg Nelson led off the inning with a single to shallow left field and went first-to-third on a single to right-center field by Mitchell Prophet. Dillon Usiak followed with a RBI single through the right side of the infield to push the OBU lead to 4-2. Michael Sliger hit OBU’s fourth consecutive single in the inning to load the bases but the Bison left all three runners stranded as Bargas settled in, tallying back-to-back strikeouts and a groundout to end the inning.
The Hillcats answered in the bottom of the frame as Rivera drew a walk on four-straight balls and stole second to lead off the inning. Colton Campbell walked after battling a full count and Rymel moved the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Cody Campbell followed with a hard hit ball up the middle, snagged by OBU shortstop Yael Colon who forced Colton Campbell into a rundown for the second out but allowed Rivera to score as the Hillcats cut the deficit to 4-3.
Both teams saw the minimum at the plate in the eighth and Bargas got out of a jam in the top of the ninth with some help from his defense. With one out, Usiak walked and Sliger followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Baptista hit a single to center and Usiak rounded third to score but RSU centerfielder Eric Baker fired the ball to Rymel at home plate who applied the tagged for the second out of the inning. Cody Campbell registered the third out as he reached over the fence down the first base line to catch a foul ball.
Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Rivera led off the inning and sliced a line drive towards first base. Baptista was unable to handle the hit, allowing Rivera to reach first. A wild pitch and a ground out moved him to third base. With two out, once again Cody Campbell delivered a RBI single, belted though the middle, to knot the game 4-4 and forced extra innings.
Faust (9-2) registered the win on the mound for RSU as the senior south paw tossed the final two innings and allowed just one hit while fanning one. With the win, the Winfield, Kan. native tied the RSU single-season wins record with Shawn Spainhoward who has nine wins this season and Brent Hill who tallied nine victories in 2007. Bargas received the no decision as he allowed four runs on 13 hits with two walks and seven strikeouts over nine innings.
Carlos (5-2) has nine saves on the year and was tagged with his second loss of the season. The right-handed closer tossed two innings and allowed one run on two hits with two walks while fanning two.
OBU tallied 14 hits, led by Newton, Baptista, and Sliger with three hits apiece but the Bison left 14 runners stranded in the contest. RSU registered eight hits and left 12 runners on base.
Rogers State (44-14) advances to the championship game with a trip to the NAIA World Series on the line. The game will be played at 6 p.m. on Saturday and the Hillcat Network will have a live audio stream at www.rsuhillcats.com/live.