OKLAHOMA CITY – Kansas Wesleyan split its two games on the first day of the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round hosted by Oklahoma City University at Jim Wade Stadium. The Coyotes knocked off LSU-Alexandria 8-3 in the first game, but then dropped a nailbiter to No. 3 ranked Oklahoma City 7-5 in the nightcap.
The split sends the Coyotes into a 6 p.m. elimination game on Tuesday against the winner between LSU-Alexandria and Freed Hardeman.
Against LSU-Alexandria, the Coyotes took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Dustin Sipe (JR/Aztec, N.M.) walked, moved to second on a passed ball, to third on a sacrifice and then scored on Jarrett Gable (JR/Colleyville, Texas)’s ground out.
The Generals came back to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning, before the Coyotes added two in the third.
Josh Sandoval (SR/Glendale, Ariz.) singled to lead off the inning and Diego Fisher (JR/Hollister, Calif.) followed with a RBI triple. William Dryburgh (SR/St. Joseph, Mo.) drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2 Coyotes.
Wesleyan extended its lead in the fifth. Sandoval singled to start things and Fisher walked. Kevin Esquilin Cruz (JR/Trujilo Alto, Puerto Rico) singled to load the bases and two batters later, Sipe singled to score two runs and give the Coyotes a 5-2 lead.
LSUA got one back in the bottom of the inning, but in the sixth the Coyotes got two more. Gable and Jalen Jones (SO/Katy, Texas) singled to start the sixth and two batters later Fisher singled to load them up. After a LSUA pitching change and an out, Esquilin Cruz drove in a pair with a single to right.
In the eighth, the Coyotes got one more when Jones led off the inning with a single then scored when Dryburgh reached on an error.
Esquilin Cruz, Jones, Sandoval and Fisher all had two hits for the Coyotes in the game. Branden Voytko (JR/El Paso, Texas) got the win going five innings allowing three runs on five hits with four strikeouts.
In Monday’s nightcap, the Coyotes faced a tall task in the No. 3 ranked and host Oklahoma City Stars.
OCU took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but in the third inning, Jarrett Gable launched a 430-foot shot over the left field wall to tie the game at 1-1.
OCU had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the third, but Diego Fisher made an outstanding diving catch in right center to end the inning and keep the Stars off the board.
The Stars took a 2-1 lead in the fourth, and extended the lead to 4-1 in the fifth inning with a pair of runs.
The Comeback Coyotes took a 5-4 lead in the top of the sixth with one swing of the bat by Sipe. Fisher led off the inning with a double, followed by a single by Dryburgh. Two batters later Haydn Brown (SR/Gardnerville, Nev.) walked to load the bases, and Sipe promptly cleared them with a towering grand slam to left make it 5-4 Coyotes.
The Stars took a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the seventh capitalizing on a couple of KWU errors, and added a run in the eighth.
Yealex Lopez-Torres (JR/Arecibo, Puerto Rico) was hit by a pitch to open the ninth, bringing the potential game-tying run to the plate, but the Coyotes could not push a run across.
Trent Dewyer (JR/Albuquerque, N.M.) went five and two-thirds for the Coyotes allowing four runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts. Ethan Wilson (SR/Thackerville, Okla.) got the loss, allowing two runs in an inning and a third.
Dryburgh, Sipe and Sandoval had two hits each for the Coyotes.