The No. 1 team in the country will always have a target on its back and last night a team finally hit it.
The Bison had won 23 of their previous 24 games.
The game was the final one of the evening and was delayed twice due to lightning in the vicinity, stopping play for a total of two hours and 17 minutes. The game had been pushed back already because the previous game on the docket went 12 innings.
However, dealing with those circumstances, OBU coach Bobby Cox didn’t look for excuses or say the delays were a factor.
“I don’t think so,” Cox said. “Just from the standpoint that the game got broken up. Our pitcher and their pitcher, too, had three different warmups. I think that Cumberland is really swinging the bat well. We just picked a bad night to not pitch very well.
“We had some things going offensively and tied it up in the sixth. And then went to the bullpen, Jordan was at 90 pitches and had been stopped and started two or three times and the wheels just kinda came off there.
“We didn’t really get a good performance out of our relief corps. And Cumberland, like I said, is the hottest team in the tournament right now. They’re just hard to handle at this moment.”
The Bison are still alive in the tournament and drop to the losers’ bracket where they will face the other team from Oklahoma that made the trip to Idaho.
Oklahoma Wesleyan is playing in its first world series and is also one of the final four teams remaining.
Cox has had a chance to observe today’s opponent.
“(OKWU coach) Matt Parker does a great job,” Cox said. “We’ve sat and watched him all through this tournament and really all year.
“They play good fundamental baseball and are aggressive, and I guess scrappy is a good word for it. Their pitchers are all going to throw strikes and pound the zone. And their going to pick it up and throw you out. It’ll be a battle.”
The Bison didn’t finish last night’s contest until 1 a.m. PDT, meaning a quick turnaround. But Cox said he believes his players can handle the schedule.
“They’re young. It’s always interesting at this time of year when you drop to the losers’ bracket or you lose a game and you see how your kids are going to react. We’ve seen a couple of times up here where, teams that once they lose, it just pulls the wind out of their sails a little bit.
“It’ll be interesting to see how our kids react. I think they’ll react well and come out and play hard, whether we win or not, they’ll be ready to go.”
Today’s game is an elimination game with first pitch set for 3 p.m. PDT, a 5 p.m. start for those planning to follow in Oklahoma. And the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3.