Apr. 30, 2007

Hillcats Split with Newman in Season Finale

A seventh inning rally fell one run short in Game 2 and Rogers State settled for a doubleheader split with Newman on Sunday at McCarthy Field in Wichita, Kan.

The doubleheader marked the conclusion of the 2007 season for the Hillcats and the final games for seniors Eric Bunch, Brent Hill and Todd Koscheski. Hill turned in a gem of a performance in Game 1. He tossed a complete game, allowing just one unearned run and racking up six strikeouts as RSU cruised to an 11-1 run-rule victory in five innings.

The Hillcats took a 2-0 lead in the second inning as Zack Bacon and Koscheski drew back-to-back walks and Andrew Sherman laced a two-run double to left field. RSU added two runs in the third inning, three in the fourth and three more in the fifth. Bunch paced the Hillcats offensively, going 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored. Koscheski added two runs scored as all three seniors made major contributions in the last Hillcat victory of the season. Hill (9-2) set a new team record for single season pitching victories with nine.

“I can’t say enough about those three seniors and the job they’ve done,” Coach Ron Bradley said. “Eric and Todd have given us three great years and Brent came in and was the leader of our pitching staff this spring.”

A six-run fifth inning put Newman ahead, 8-4, and keyed the victory for the Jets in Game 2. The home team rallied for six runs on eight hits, chasing RSU starter Tyler Whitaker from the game. Reliever Creston Moon allowed the final two runs of the inning as Newman sent 11 hitters to the plate before Josh Walker, the third Hillcat pitcher of the inning, recorded the last out via a strikeout.

RSU drew to within one run when Blake Hollingsworth hammered a three-run homer over the center field wall in the top of the seventh, making it an 8-7 game. Koscheski followed with a single and the Hillcats had the tying run on base with no outs. However, Tim Gwartney promptly grounded into a double play and Brett Hollingsworth struck out to end the game.

RSU led 4-2 after a three-run fourth inning. Gwartney led things off with a double to center field. Brett Hollingsworth followed with a walk and Sherman delivered his second two-run double of the afternoon. Ryan Salsbury belted an RBI double off the center field wall to cap the rally.

The Hillcats threatened in the sixth inning as Brett Hollingsworth and Sherman cranked back-to-back singles. However, Jets reliever Alex Mauricio struck out pinch hitters Ryan Littlejohn and Bacon to escape the jam. Whitaker (4-5) suffered the loss for RSU as Mauricio earned the win in relief for Newman.

Coach Bradley’s club finished the spring 28-23, marking the first winning season in history for RSU baseball.

“I’m really proud of our club and the things they were able to accomplish this year,” Bradley said. “They laid a strong foundation for the future of Hillcat baseball and we look forward to building on that in the days ahead.”

RSU will become full members of the Sooner Athletic Conference in 2007-08 and will be eligible for the conference tournament as well as post-season play. The Hillcats will play a 30-game conference schedule in the spring of 2008.