The East Central University baseball team will play their final home games of the 2014 season over the next week at Tiger Field. The Tigers will first host Southwestern Oklahoma State, April 11-12 for a double-header Friday at 1 p.m. and a single game Saturday at 1 p.m. ECU will then welcome St. Gregory’s, Tuesday, April 15 at 3 p.m. for the final home game of the year.
Fans who can’t be at the game can find links to live stats, live video (if available) on ECUTigers.com. Go to the baseball schedule page.
Senior Day/Alumni Weekend
This weekend’s games against Southwestern are the annual Alumni Weekend and Saturday’s game will be Senior Day. The Tigers will honor their six seniors on the 2014 squad; Robert Buitrago, Ethan Gold, Levi Keeton, Chris Lane, Josh Lavender and Michael Mariano.
The Bulldogs are 19-16 overall and 11-10 in the Great American Conference after going 1-2 with Harding last weekend and earning a non-conference win over Newman on Tuesday. SWOSU has a .279 to .286 deficit in batting average, but a 182 to 162 advantage in runs scored.
Dalton Daniels is the top producer at the plate for the Bulldogs, with a .377 average, 49 hits, 28 runs and 18 RBIs. Kale Thaxton adds a .308 average, 22 runs, 40 hits and a team-best 31 RBIs.
Jonathan Johnson and Ethan Davis are the key pitchers for SWOSU, with both having 5-3 records. Johnson has seen action in 70 innings, allowed 60 hits and 24 runs and struck out 36. Davis has allowed 68 hits and 37 runs, with 43 strikeouts in 55 innings of work.
Against the Bulldogs
In 2013, SWOSU took all three games in the GAC series in Weatherford, Okla.
Junior Eric Swann is the top returner for the Tigers in the series, with a .500 average, three hits and one RBI. Senior Robert Buitrago threw a complete game against the Bulldogs, suffering a loss. He allowed 10 hits and six runs and earned one K.
Chris Faulkner is the top returner for SWOSU, with a .583 average, seven hits, four runs and three RBIs. The Bulldogs have no returning pitchers that saw action in the series in 2013.
Scouting St. Gregory’s
The Cavaliers are 11-25 overall and 4-14 in the Sooner Athletic Conference in 2014. SGU will face the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma for a three-game series before making the trip to Ada.
Mark Milioto is the key hitter for the Cavaliers, with a .357 average, seven runs, 45 hits and 26 RBIs. Jacob Ratliff adds a .339 batting average, 28 runs, 38 hits and 25 RBIs.
Ben Moore and Chris Sutton have seen the most time on the mound this season. Moore has 50.1 innings of work, but a 0-8 record after allowing 67 hits and 40 runs, with 55 Ks. Sutton is 6-2 on the year in 56.2 innings of work. He has struck out 41 and allowed 76 hits and 40 runs.
Against the Cavaliers
ECU and SGU meet earlier this season in Shawnee, Okla., in what turned out to be a marathon game of 3:40 that the Tigers won 24-16.
ECU has six players with two-or-more hits in the game, with junior Nick Spini leading the way with three hits, two runs and three RBIs. Senior Josh Lavender added two hits, one run and six RBIs. Junior Oscar Gomez earned the win after starting the game on the mound and throwing 4.1 innings. Gomez allowed 10 hits and 10 runs and struck out five.
The Cavaliers also saw six players with multiple hit games, with Jacob Ratliff leading the team with four hits, four runs and six RBIs. Landon Champman suffered the loss in one of six pitchers used by SGU. Champman threw four innings, allowed five hits and eight runs and struck out five.
Writing in New Records
The Tigers 10-game winning streak between March 11 and March 25 was the longest in the record books that date back to the 1996 season. The previous longest streak was seven games during the 2012 season (March 17-March 27) and 1999 (Feb. 27- March 4).
Lavender Coming Up Big
Senior Josh Lavender may have a .280 overall batting average, but he has been coming up big at key moments for the Tigers. He has a .318 mark with runners on base, .389 average with two outs, .387 mark with runners in scoring position, .462 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and a .875 average with the bases loaded.
Donohoe Earns GAC Player of the Week
Junior Garrett Donohoe was been named the Great American Conference Player of the Week for March 10 after helping the Tigers to a 2-1 record over the weekend against Harding.
Donohoe started the weekend series by hitting .857 in the double-header March 7. Donohoe hit for the cycle in the games, with two singles, two doubles, a triple and home run, while garnering six RBIs. The Lake Forest, Calif., native added six put outs and four assisted outs. He ended the weekend with a .636 batting average, seven hits and six RBIs.
National Strikeout Leader
Junior Icezack Flemming has made an immediate impact for the Tigers on the mound, recording 87 this season. His total not only puts him at the top of the GAC category, but he is the NCAA’s Division II Strikeout leader as of April 6. The next person on the list has 84. For his efforts he is currently ranked No. 1 in the GAC in strikeouts (87), No. 1 in complete games (8) and No. 4 in innings pitched (66.1) and No. 2 wins (7).
Taking Down Ranked Teams
The Tigers had a strong road GAC weekend, Feb. 28-March 1, earning a 2-1 record against then-No. 17 Arkansas Tech. ECU fell in the opening game 2-12, but rebounding to win 9-1 and 7-3 in Saturday’s double-header.
Home Run Performance
The Tigers had a strong weekend at the plate against Henderson State, recording five home runs, including a grand slam. The weekend total surpasses what ECU put together all of the 2013 season (4).
Pomales Pounding Away
Junior Luc Pomales had a strong week for the Tigers, with seven hits, four RBIs and two runs scored against Ouachita Baptist and Texas Wesleyan. Pomales tallied one home run, a slugging percentage of .667, a .467 hitting percentage, stole a base and was 8-for-8 in the field.
GAC Preseason Poll
ECU will have a lot to prove, as the Tigers were picked to finish 11th (13 points) in the 2014 Great American Conference Preseason Poll, as voted on by the league’s head coaches.
Southern Arkansas was a clear top choice with 100 points and 10-of-11 first-place votes. Arkansas Tech was the only other team to receive a first-place vote, finishing second with 88 points. Southwestern Oklahoma State was picked third (78 points), Arkansas-Monticello fourth (63), Henderson State fifth (61), Harding sixth (55), Ouachita Baptist seventh (50), Southeastern Oklahoma state eighth (46), Northwestern Oklahoma State ninth (25) and Southern Nazarene 10th (19).
The Tigers will hit the road to end the 2014 regular-season. ECU will first battle with Northwestern Oklahoma State, April 18-19, in a three game series. The Tigers then face Oklahoma City, Tuesday, April 22 and Southeastern Oklahoma State, April 25-26.