Harding’s baseball team and Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) finished a three-game Great American Conference (GAC) series this weekend, March 4-5, with OBU taking both games of the double header on Saturday at Jerry Moore Field.
The Bison’s (9-10) lost the first game 6-1 and the second game 8-4, but came back to win the third and final game on Sunday 4 -2. Harding is 4-5 in the GAC and 9-10 overall.
“It was big to find a way to win the last game of this series,” head coach Patrick McGaha said, “Winning the third game gave us good momentum for the season because we are 4-5 in the conference instead of 3-6.”
In game one, Harding’s leading hitter, senior outfielder Zac Stewart helped the Bisons take the lead 1-0 in the first inning. Harding’s only other hit was by sophomore infielder Zach Beasely who singled with two outs during the second inning.
OBU scored in the fourth off of Harding’s starting pitcher, senior Andrew Fiddler, tying the game 1-1 and the notched another run in the sixth to take the lead 2-1. It remained a one-run game into the ninth inning, when Fiddler was relieved by senior Jacob Stripling, and OBU’s Trevor Ezell hit a grand slam to ice game one for the Bison from Oklahoma.
“We really haven’t been playing our best baseball yet, but we’re only two games back from first place in the GAC,” senior catcher Davis Richardson said. “Once we start hitting on all cylinders it’s going to be a fun ride.”
In game two of the doubleheader, the Bisons dug themselves into an early 4-0 hole, but responded with four runs in the eight to tie the game at 4-4. Oklahoma Baptist responded with four runs of their own in the top of the ninth to pull away once again and earn the series win with an 8-4 game two victory.
Despite dropping the series the night before, sophomore first baseman Grant Guest started game three strong for Harding by scoring a run in the first inning. Senior catcher Jaxon Mohr then scored on a wild pitch in the third, allowing Harding to take a 2-0 lead. Oklahoma Baptist’s Felipe Gonzalez tied the game in the fifth inning with two-run home run, but freshman outfielder Ben Brauss hit a single that scored Mohr to help Harding retake a 3-2 lead. With the bases loaded in the sixth, freshman infielder Blake Coward scored on a walk to tack on an insurance run in the Bisons’ 4-2 win.
“The highlight of this series was when Ben Brauss had the winning hit in the final game on Saturday,” Grant Guest said. “It was exciting for him, because it was his first career college hit, and it was exciting for us as a team because it was a huge win.”
McGaha said that he believes the team will continue to find success as the season continues.
“You still have to deal with failure even when you know you can hit well,” head coach Patrick McGaha said. “We are trying to stay positive. They are good hitters and they are putting in the work.”