Five consecutive singles made the difference for the Eagles, who made their debut in the Avista NAIA Baseball World Series.
OKWU coach Matt Parker said he was excited about the win, but especially so for his team.
“For me personally, I’m excited for our guys and all the hard work that they’ve done to get to this point.,” Parker said.
“For our university and obviously it being our first time to be in the world series, and to get that first win, the way they represented Oklahoma Wesleyan, it was tremendous to watch them play.”
Early in the game, it looked as though it could be a high scoring affair. But that would not be the case. Each team scored in the first inning – and then neither scored again.
The Grizzlies used back-to-back doubles in the top of the inning. Jake Fields reached second with one out and Robbie Payne sent him in for the score.
Then it was the Eagles’ turn and their bats looked great to start the game. Each of the first five batters – Avery Flores, Jeff Butler, Jose Ruiz, Cody Riley and Will Price – reached base on a single.
“We joked that this is not typically who we are,” Parker said. “We didn’t actually hit the ball out of the infield, it didn’t seem like. But we were able to get it going and our guys did a good job of executing the plan that we had based on the scouting report, hitting the fastball and just being aggressive.”
Riley and Price each notched an RBI with the hit. And OKWU took the early lead, which would stand.
Then the pitchers found a groove and the game became a defensive battle
Diego Ibarra earned the win for the Eagles. C.J. Gregory came in to pitch in the ninth and picked up his 13th save of the season.
Tyler Carpenter took the loss for the Grizzlies with 5.1 innings of work.
“Their guy was really good,” Parker said. “He settled in just like Diego did. Diego got settled in and just got better.”
Ibarra had help from his team.
“Defensively, we had two guys thrown out at the plate on relays,” Parker said. “Brice McCulloch did a tremendous job catching it and putting tags on the guys on really tough plays at the plate.
Parker said he appreciated the experience as a whole.
“It was really just a good game to watch. It was a good college baseball game.”
Oklahoma Wesleyan will have a couple of days to rest and Parker already has plans for the time off that he considers important.
“The rest is big. I think that any time at this point in the year that you can get some rest is a good thing.
“We’ll find a place tomorrow to let our guys hit and to move around some. But we’ll enjoy watching some world series games and enjoy Sunday and go to church and then get ready to go on Monday night.”
The Eagles’ next game will be on Memorial Day at 8:30 p.m. CDT.