Stars shine bright in 8-3 win over Crusaders
The senior outfielder showed why he was the Sooner Athletic Conference's Player of the Year as he went 3-of-5 at the plate with two doubles to drive in five of the Stars' first six runs. Baker, who hit .405 during the season, upped his RBI total to 90 on the season, which ranks him second in the NAIA.
Baker struck out his first time up but then drove in runs on his next three at bats.
“I'm always learning,” Baker said. “I try to take every at bat and learn from it. I just got good pitches to hit tonight.”
Oklahoma City had plenty of baserunners early but it seemed it was only Baker who could get the key hit as the Stars stranded 11 on base.
“Honestly it's just the hard work and dedication every day,” Baker said of his clutch hitting this season. “My teammates have my back every day. They motivate me to strive to be good.”
Matt Young, a junior right-hander, also was good on Saturday night. He threw 161 pitches in a complete game seven-hitter for the Stars. He struck out six and walked five in the contest.
The Stars, 49-8 overall, will face No 5 seed and host Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), 36-13, in Monday night's late game at 6:30 p.m. in winner's bracket play. William Carey, 43-19, will play at 8:30 a.m. Monday against No. 7 seed Science & Arts (Okla.) in a loser-out game.
William Carey took the lead at 2-0 in the second inning. Tyler Odom hit a single through the hole at shortstop and Cody Christian followed with a home run to deep right field. It was his second home run of the season.
Oklahoma City got its first run in the top of the third when an error, a walk and a single loaded the bases with one out. Baker then singled to right to bring in the run, but William Carey starter Connor McWilliams got out of the jam with a pop up and a ground out.
William Carey made it 3-1 in the bottom of the third when Tyler Graves hit his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot to left-center field.
Oklahoma City battled back in the top of the fourth. A one out walk started the rally and despite striking out, Jerame Littell reached base on a wild pitch, which put runners on first and third. Lane Milligan then singled up the middle to score a run and then a misplayed grounder again loaded the bases for the Stars for the second straight inning with one out. This time, however, the Stars took advantage as Baker cleared the bases with a double to left-center field. The hit put OCU ahead 5-3.
Baker added to his RBI total in the sixth inning. Joe Lytle singled up the middle with two outs and scored on Baker's double down the right-field line. That hit ended the night for McWilliams.
The Stars were able to put the game away in the eighth with two runs on three hits and an error. Baker nearly had another RBI in the eighth, but Milligan was thrown out at home trying to score on a grounder to second. Shaun Corso did single in a run in the eighth and Cory Linn added an RBI double.
Oklahoma City, which is seeking its second NAIA baseball title in its 15th year at the Series, had two hits apiece from Milligan, Lytle and Corso.
William Carey, which is making its first Series appearance since 1978, had two hits and two RBI from Christian.
McWilliams wound up taking the loss to fall to 7-2 on the season.