College of the Ozarks Bobcat Baseball fell in a heartbreaker on Tuesday afternoon, 9-6, to the NAIA No. 13 Oklahoma Wesleyan University Eagles.
The Bobcats took advantage of two walks and a Kyle Abrahamson base hit to open the game, tallying four runs on one hit and an error. Freshman southpaw Riley Loyd (Little Rock, Ark.) took the mound, giving up no hits or runs in his first collegiate inning. The Cats added another run to take a 5-0 lead in the top of the third on a leadoff homerun to left center by Ryan Daggs, his third of the early season. OKWU responded in the bottom of the inning, with a two-out double and a homerun.
Following a walk and a pop out in the bottom of the fifth, the Bobcats made a pitching change, and freshman Tad Jones, a left-hander from Huntsville, Ark., replaced Loyd. The Eagles proceeded to push another run across the plate to cut the CofO lead to two at 5-3.
In the bottom of the sixth with one out, Zach Ford singled to right and stole second base. Catcher Westin Gann came through with an RBI base hit to score Ford. The three-run advantage was short-lived, however, as OKWU’s Kellerstrass tagged a solo homerun in the bottom of the frame to cut the Cats’ lead to 6-4.
The top of the eighth found senior Kyle Giefer driving a double to right field. Ford followed with a single and stolen base, placing runners on 2nd and third with one out. An infield pop out, strike out, and a fly ball subsequently dashed the Bobcats’ hopes for a big inning.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Bobcats still held their 6-4 advantage. OKWU led off with a hit-by-pitch and a walk before the Bobcats made a pitching change. Another walk and a wild pitch resulted in a run, followed by a sac fly to tie the game at six apiece. With runners on second and third, one out, and a 3-2 count, Easton Elliott launched a three-run home run over the right field fence for an OKWU walk-off victory.
The Bobcats were led at the plate by Kyle Giefer and Zach Ford, both of whom went 2 for 4. Brent Shinkle went 1 for 3 with a double. Ryan Daggs scored two runs and drove in two, including his home run. Starter Riley Loyd pitched 4-1/3 innings, giving up three runs on two hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Reliever Tad Jones pitched 3-2/3 innings, allowing four runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Overall, a good start for two freshman pitchers against a Top 25 team. Sean Neal took the loss, allowing two runs on one hit with two walks.
College of the Ozarks, now 2-3 on the season, will return home this weekend to host a Tri-Match, featuring Texas A&M-Texarkana and Mount Mercy. Friday and Saturday games will be played at 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m. at Coach Bob Smith Field on the College of the Ozarks’ campus in Point Lookout.