Coyotes set season wins record in split of final games at KCAC Tournament

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GREAT BEND – Kansas Wesleyan set a new school record for wins in a season as the Coyotes beat the McPherson College Bulldogs 3-2 in the final bracket game of the KCAC Tournament, but lost to the Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles 6-4 in the tournament championship game on Sunday at the Great Bend Sports Complex.

Wesleyan eclipsed last season’s record win total of 44 in the win over McPherson to eliminate the Bulldogs and reach the conference tournament championship game.

It was the third meeting in as many days with the Bulldogs as the teams had split the two previous tournament meetings as McPherson won the first 11-9, then KWU winning on Saturday 7-3 to force Sunday’s “if necessary” game to determine the bracket winner.

The game with McPherson was scoreless until the bottom of the second when the Coyotes got on the board. Tyler Favretto led off the inning with single and courtesy runner Jalen Jones then scored for the Coyotes on a single by Alex Garcia.

In the fourth inning the Coyotes extended the lead as Favretto recorded his NAIA-leading 60th walk of the season, and Zack Beatty singled to move the courtesy runner Jones to third, setting up another RBI single by Garcia to make it 2-0.

McPherson tied in the top of the fifth inning with a 2-run homer.

The Coyotes got out of a jam in the top of the seventh with McPherson as the Bulldogs loaded the bases but after KT Gearlds entered the game with two outs, Andres Artola would foul out behind first base to end the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, the Coyotes would get singles by Cruz Oxford and Favretto and Beatty was intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs in the inning. McPherson would then walk Adrian Villalobos to force in the go-ahead run to make it 3-2.

Gearlds pitched a spotless eighth, setting up the ninth for Ryan Sandoval who would get a fly out and a game-ending double play to secure the win.

Favretto had three hits in the game while Garcia had two and drove in two runs. Gearlds got the win for the Coyotes in relief, pitching an inning and a third with a strikeout. Starter Cesar Rodriguez went five strong innings holding McPherson to two runs on two hits. Zach Westbrook tossed an inning, Ritter Steinmann went two-thirds of an inning. Sandoval pitched the ninth for his eighth save of the season.

In the tournament championship game, KWU faced Oklahoma Wesleyan.

Playing their sixth game in four days, the Coyote pitching staff was limited in available players, but those that did throw made the best of it.

Starter Riley Gwin would pitch four and two-thirds innings for the Coyotes and limited the Eagles to three runs and four hits. Danny Ramirez went an inning and a third allowing a run on a hit and Hunter Blea went two innings allowing two runs on two hits, as the staff limited the high-powered OKWU offense to just six runs.

The Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning on a Jesus Maldonado homer and a RBI groundout by Ravaughn Morgan.

KWU tied it up in the top of the third as Villalobos singled and Garcia followed with a single to put two on for Kendall Foster to connect on a double just fair down the right field line to score both runners.

The game was tied until the bottom of the fifth when OKWU’s Alex Austin hit a solo homer with two outs in the inning to put the Eagles up 3-2.

Back came the Coyotes again, loading the bases on three straight walks to Foster, Gable and Oxford, and after a OKWU pitching change, Favretto was hit by a pitch to bring in the tying run. Reece Bishop drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to put the Coyotes up 4-3.

OKWU tied it in the bottom of the inning on Josh Logan’s RBI single that scored Morgan.

The Eagles took a 6-4 lead in the seventh on a Josue Vasquez double and a RBI groundout by Morgan.

KWU was held to five hits in the game, while OKWU had seven.

Ashton Luera for OKWU recorded the final 11 outs of the game for the Eagles, all via strikeout.

Both OKWU and KWU will represent the KCAC in the NAIA Baseball National Championship Opening Round, which runs May 13-16 at campus sites around the country.

The NAIA Baseball National Championship Selection Show is slated for 4 p.m. Thursday, when Opening Round assignments and pairings will be announced.