Biola baseball loses championship game to Oklahoma Baptist
Last week, the Biola baseball team was in Joliet, Ill. for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics National Championship opening round of playoffs. After advancing through a double elimination tournament, the Biola Eagles were sent home, ending their season with a record of 38-22. Freshman Johnny Farrington, junior Drake Fages and senior Alex Brueske led the Eagles throughout the tournament, but their efforts were not enough to match the champion Oklahoma Baptist University—who beat them twice in the tournament.
Eagles advance in tournament
In the first game, Biola faced the University of St. Francis, the hosts of the tournament. Biola came out sluggish, but got a great pitching outing from sophomore Nick Turner. His strong pitching kept them close, until the Biola bats woke up. Fages pulled the Eagles out of a 2-2 tie, with the go-ahead single. Following the single, junior Mac Sullivan broke the game open with a three-run homer to give the Eagles a 6-2 lead and eventual win.
Sullivan's home run, according to junior Kevin Ryan was “the farthest home run I've ever witnessed. That one was pretty special.”
With the opening game win, Biola moved to play the top seed in the tournament, Oklahoma Baptist. The Eagles kept themselves in the game thanks to a solid outing from Ryan, but eventually lost 6-5. Ryan went five innings only allowing two earned runs and was in line for a victory. The Biola bats were alive, and took the lead late with a triple from Johnny Farrington and an RBI single from sophomore Benji Sutherland. Unfortunately for the Eagles, their hopes of cruising to the championship game were halted when Oklahoma Baptist struck in the ninth inning with a walk off home run.
Biola needed a solid performance in their next game against St. Francis, and received a much needed gem from Brueske, who pitched the entire game—getting stronger as the game progressed. His stellar pitching kept the Eagles in the game until their bats erupted for 12 runs on 18 hits en route to a 13-1 win. Hot hitting by Johnny Farrington continued, he went 3-4 in the crucial game, raised his tournament average to .778, went 7 for 9 over the weekend.
Losing to Oklahoma Baptist
The championship game again put the Eagles against the Oklahoma Baptist Bisons, however, in this game the Eagles could not keep up. The Eagles fell in a 13-1 loss after a crushing blow in the fifth inning, when the Bisons scored seven runs with two outs in the inning.
Despite the loss, the Eagles were generally content with the season and the tournament because of the opportunities to bond and relax. The team remained positive about the season’s end because of their successes throughout.
“We really bonded this year under the Lord,” Turner said. “We will be back next year stronger, better, and cuter than ever.” He also added that, “I left my heart in Joliet.”
Improving their GSAC stats
Ryan was excited to see the graduating seniors enjoy success in their final season. He said that Brian “Bubba” Loard had a great season, Josh Burket got a base hit in the last game, and Justin Rodriguez finished the game strong for the Eagles. He continued wishing the seniors the best of luck, and he hoped those with a chance to play baseball again will be able to glorify God in doing so.
The Eagles offense finished the year first in the GSAC in runs scored and RBIs and second in batting average and home runs. Fages, Boone Farrington and junior Vinnie Fayard all were in the top ten in batting average, while Fages and Loard both finished in the top five in home runs and RBIs in the GSAC. On the pitching side, the Eagles ended the year with the fifth best ERA in the conference which is a big improvement from 2010 when they were ninth. Turner finished the year second in the GSAC in innings pitched and fifth in strikeouts and senior Kyle Atkins placed third in wins with eight.