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Eagles split pair of closely contested games against Heartland rival McMurry

OC right-hander Brandon Pierce throws a pitch against McMurry on Friday. Pierce fanned nine batters in six innings to lead the Eagles to a win in game one of the series.
OC right-hander Brandon Pierce throws a pitch against McMurry on Friday. Pierce fanned nine batters in six innings to lead the Eagles to a win in game one of the series.

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 28, 2014) – For only the second time this season in Heartland Conference play, Oklahoma Christian will enter a series finale with the result still in doubt.

The Eagles opened their three-game set against McMurry (Texas) on Friday at Dobson Field by riding Brandon Pierce’s strong pitching to a 4-2 win, but the War Hawks rebounded in the second game, rallying in the eighth inning to beat OC 4-3.

The loss in the latter game snapped a six-game winning streak for OC (17-9, 11-6 Heartland), which is ranked seventh in the NCAA Division II South Central Region poll. McMurry (13-18, 7-9) is in its final season in the Heartland, having opted to exit the Division II membership process and return to NCAA Division III following this academic year.

In the opener, A.J. Dupre’s RBI double down the left-field line put McMurry ahead 1-0 in the first inning against Pierce (5-2), but the right-hander settled down after that and allowed just two runs while striking out nine during his six-inning stint.

OC did all of its scoring in the second inning against McMurry starter Joel DePorte (3-4), recording six hits during the four-run rally. Caleb Price had a run-scoring single and reigning Heartland hitter of the week Cory Eastwood added a RBI double. Eastwood eventually scored on a balk to make it 4-1.

McMurry pulled within 4-2 in the sixth when Ben Douglas doubled to right field and scored on a single by Eric Moritz, but Pierce escaped any more damage. Dillon Endecott allowed a pair of two-out hits by the War Hawks in the seventh, but he retired Douglas on a fly ball to secure his third save of the baseball season.

Luke Sandoval made his second weekend start in as many weeks for the Eagles in the second game and pitched well, allowing five hits and two runs in six innings. He exited the game with a 3-2 lead after Price singled to center field to lead off the fifth inning and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by A.J. Florence.

But McMurry took the lead in the eighth, scoring twice against OC reliever Garrett Guys (1-1). Guys hit leadoff batter Greg Koll with a pitch and Koll scored on an error by OC third baseman Sean Murphy to tie the game. A bunt single moved Kyle Sargent, who had reached base on the error, to third base and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Zack Hagan.

OC left two runners on base in the eighth and went down in order in the ninth against McMurry reliever Mitch Labbie (3-3).

The teams will play the decisive game of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m.