The 2014 McMurry University baseball season drew to a close on Friday evening in the championship finals of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Central Region tournament. The War Hawks (26-28) split its pair of games on Friday, defeating Central Baptist College, 3-1, in an elimination game, and then falling to top-seed Oklahoma Christian University, 3-2, in the finale.
As has been the case most of the season, the McMurry pitching was on the money once again in both affairs.
In Game One versus CBC, Mitch Labbie made just his fifth start of the year and turned in a gem when the War Hawks needed it most. Labbie went the complete nine innings, scattering seven hits and allowing just one run. He had an McM career-best 10 strikeouts and walked just one batter.
CBC hurler Darren Cates also went the distance, locking up with Labbie in a classic pitchers’ duel. All the runs that would be scored in the game came in the first 1 ½ innings of play.
McMurry, the visitor on the scoreboard, scored a run in the top of the first. A one-out single by Christian Simmons was parlayed into a run when, following a passed ball that moved Simmons ahead 90 feet, designated hitter Ben Douglas cracked an RBI single.
After Central Baptist knotted the game at 1-1 in their half of the first, McMurry plated two more runs in the top of the second. Three-consecutive one-out singles by AJ Dupre, Greg Koll and Jeremy Ruiz were the catalyst. Ruiz drove in one run, followed by a ground out RBI by Kyle Sargent that made it 3-1.
Douglas and Ruiz each had two hits in the game, accounting for half of their team’s eight hits. Douglas was 2-for-4, while Ruiz finished the game 2-for-3. There were no extra-base hits by either team (CBC had seven singles).
In the rematch versus Oklahoma Christian, senior Joel DePorte came back on just three day’s rest and delivered another sterling effort in what would be his final career appearance for McMurry. DePorte went the full nine innings, scattering seven hits and allowing just one earned run. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.
On the year, DePorte set an McM season record for control, with 65 strikeouts to just eight walks. That translates into 8.13 “Ks” for every base on balls he issued during his team-leading 105 1/3 innings of work in 2014. He finished with a 9-5 record and a 2.56 ERA.
The Eagles scored two unearned runs in the second inning to grab the early 2-0 lead. McMurry cut that to 2-1 in the third when Dupre – who reached on a leadoff walk – scored after Ruiz grounded into a double play.
OC added a crucial insurance run in the fifth. With one out, a double and RBI single pushed the deficit to two runs again, 3-1.
McMurry had its best chance to overtake the Eagles in the bottom of the seventh. Douglas led off with a double and took third on Eric Moritz’s single. Eric Preuss laid down a bunt single to load the bases with none out. A ground out to third allowed Douglas to come home, making it 3-2. But the next two batters were retired to end the threat and, when McM couldn’t mount any more offense, ended the War Hawks’ season.
McMurry’s 4-5-6 hitters – Douglas, Moritz and Preuss – each went 2-for-4 in the game. McMurry out-hit the Eagles by a 10-7 margin.
Information for this story provided by McMurry Athletics.