The Edmond Sun
Ross Rose and Matt Johnson combined for 11 runs batted in and Central Oklahoma continued its move up the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association leaderboard with a wild 20-13 triumph over Washburn Sunday afternoon at wind-blown Wendell Simmons Field.
It was the seventh straight conference win for the Bronchos, who have jumped from 11th to fifth in the league standings and are just percentage points behind Missouri Southern for fourth. The top four teams host teams 5-8 for three-game series in the first round of the MIAA Postseason Tournament May 3-5.
Rose had a grand slam and six RBI, while Johnson added a three-run homer and five RBI to spark UCO past the Ichabods in the marathon contest that saw 374 pitches, 33 runs and 32 hits.
The Bronchos built leads of 10-2 and 14-4 only to see WU rally to within 14-11 before UCO finally put the game away to compete the series sweep.
“The guys are playing well and any time you can get a sweep it’s big,” said head coach Dax Leone, whose team has won eight in a row overall and is now 26-16 on the season. “It’s a long season with a lot of ups and downs and one of our philosphies here is to just play the game and not the score or the opponent. We’ve done that the last couple of weeks and swung the bats better.”
Johnson and Cesar Wong had three hits apiece to pace the offense, with Rose, Matt Malloy and Robbie Hoffman adding two apiece as the Bronchos scored a season-high 20 runs.
The Ichabods took a 2-0 lead in their initial at bat, but UCO came back with six runs in the second and four more in the third to move in front 10-2.
Johnson’s massive three-run blast keyed the second-inning uprising that also included a two-run single by Wong, with Rose lofting his big fly over the left field wall in the third to account for all four runs.
Rose added a two-run double in the fourth and the Bronchos also got sacrifice flies from Eric Garza and Cameron Mavroulis in upping their lead to 14-4 before WU started its comeback.
The Ichabods cut the deficit to 14-11 after their half of the seventh inning, with UCO making it 16-11 in the bottom half of that inning on Wacey Henderson’s RBI walk and Malloy’s run-scoring fielder’s choice.
The Bronchos added four more runs in the eighth, getting a two-run double from Johnson along with Garza’s solo homer and Henderson’s RBI single.
UCO plays its final home game today with a 2:30 p.m. single game against Northwood before wrapping up the regular season with a three-game conference series at Truman State next weekend.