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Eagles sweep doubleheader from Dustdevils, clinch 1st Heartland series win

Jordan Lopez hit a two-run homer and scored four runs for OC in the Eagles' win over Texas A&M International in the second game of Friday's doubleheader.
Jordan Lopez hit a two-run homer and scored four runs for OC in the Eagles' win over Texas A&M International in the second game of Friday's doubleheader.

LAREDO, Texas (Feb. 28, 2014) – Oklahoma Christian’s first Heartland Conference series win is in the books, courtesy of strong pitching from Brandon Pierce and Kelby Reneau and timely hitting from Blake Stringer and Jordan Lopez, among others.

OC swept Texas A&M International 4-1 and 8-2 on Friday afternoon at Jorge Haynes Field, meaning the Eagles already have clinched the series heading into the finale on Saturday afternoon. The series win is the first for the Eagles since sweeping Wayland Baptist (Texas) in Sooner Athletic Conference play in early March 2012.

This is the first season OC (6-5, 3-2 Heartland) is playing full three-game league series as a Heartland member. TAMIU (5-10, 0-5) is trying to avoid consecutive sweeps by conference opponents on its home field, as the Dustdevils lost three straight last week to Lubbock Christian (Texas).

OC picked up a complete-game four-hitter from Brandon Pierce (2-1) in the opener, while Kelby Reneau (2-0) allowed just one run in six innings in the second game against the Dustdevils.

“I thought our pitchers did a great job of staying out of the big inning,” OC coach Lonny Cobble said. “Every time they scored, we answered. I’m very proud of our guys and hope we bring the same intensity tomorrow.”

A.J. Florence walked to lead off the first game and eventually scored on a groundout by Stringer, who had four RBIs in the doubleheader. In the third inning, Rosser led off with a single and scored on a one-out double down the right-field line by Stringer, making it 2-0.

Florence and Rosser had RBI singles in the fourth off TAMIU starter Jeremy Gonzalez (0-2), who struck out 10 and, like Pierce, also went the distance.

Pierce struck out five and walked just one batter. He ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom of the seventh, giving up a one-out single to Andrew Arteaga and a run-scoring double to Alex McKeon, but recovered to retire the final two batters to finish off the first complete game by an OC pitcher this season.

In the second game, Reneau fell behind 1-0 in the first, but wriggled out of a jam as the Dustdevils left the bases loaded. Caden Cleveland’s run-scoring single scored Lopez in the fourth inning, tying the game at 1-1 for OC, and the Eagles seized control with a two-run sixth and a three-run seventh.

Stringer had a RBI double and Garrett Stephenson drove home another run with a bunt single in the sixth, while Lopez delivered the big blow in the seventh with a two-run homer. Lopez finished 3-for-5 and scored four runs for the Eagles.

Dillon Endecott pitched the final three innings for OC to record his first save of the season. TAMIU starter Abdel Rivera (1-2) took the loss, giving up four runs and throwing three wild pitches in 6 1/3 innings.