LEBANON, Tenn. – Jose Vera’s RBI single capped a three-run top of the eighth inning for Cumberland, but eighth-ranked Oklahoma City plated the go-ahead run in the bottom of the frame and posted a 4-3 victory in the baseball season opener for the Phoenix on Friday in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Game times for Saturday’s contests against Mount Mercy University and Southern Nazarene have been pushed back one hour to Noon and 3:30 p.m. CT, respectively, because of expected weather in the area Friday night.
The Stars (5-0) plated a run in the first against CU starter Thomas Galart on a two-out double from Tyler Williams and OCU got two more runs in the fourth on a two-out, two-run homer by Peyton Crispin for a 3-0 advantage.
Oklahoma City starter Bryce Milligan tossed seven shutout innings, giving up two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. He allowed base hits to Bo Saunders and Jared Schmidt in the third and fourth innings and gave up a walk to Bentley Jones in the seventh. CU’s only other baserunner against him came via an error in the sixth.
Cumberland took advantage of the OCU bullpen in the eighth, though, with pinch-hitter Jacob Herrera singling through the left side to leadoff the inning and Saunders followed with a single in almost the same spot. Pinch-runner Daulton Smith scored from second when Stars pitcher Spencer Flatt hurled an errant pickoff throw.
Saunders went to third on the play and Eddie McDaniels followed with a walk, prompting a pitching change. Grant Harrison induced a groundout by Peyton Wheatley but Saunders came across, cutting the deficit to 3-2.
Schmidt grounded out but Wheatley reached second and took third on a wild pitch before scoring on Vera’s single up the middle, evening the game at three.
The Stars wasted little time retaking the lead, starting when Quinton Walbergh was hit to start the bottom of the inning and Williams singled up the middle with one out, putting runners on the corners. Caleb Davis followed with an RBI single to center for a 4-3 edge.
Blake Young (0-1) worked out of further damage with two fly balls but the lefthander took the loss, allowing one run on three hits with one walk and three strikeouts in three innings of relief. Galart gave up three runs on three hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in five innings.
Kyle Blackwell drew a pinch-hit, one-out walk in the ninth, but that was all against OCU’s Tyler Milligan, who got the save. Harrison (1-0) picked up the victory with his one inning of relief.
Williams posted two of Oklahoma City’s six hits in the contest while Saunders collected two hits and scored a run for the Phoenix.