After a successful road trip February 1 and 2 to Oklahoma in which the York College baseball team won three of four—including a win over #15 ranked Sterling College (Sterling, Kan)—the Panthers were again back in the Sooner state to play a four-game series in Shawnee, Okla., this past weekend. Back-to-back doubleheaders against #10 ranked Oklahoma Baptist University proved the Panthers are the real deal: they defeated the Bison in both games Friday and then went on to split Saturday's games.
Two late-inning rallies by York doomed Oklahoma Baptist in their home baseball opener Friday, losing 8-6 and 2-1, the latter in eight innings.
York posted four runs in the second inning of the opener on four OBU errors to take a 4-0 lead. The lead got to 6-0 in the third inning. OBU scored two in the fourth and tied it with four runs in the sixth, but the Panthers scored twice on the Bison in the top of the seventh to give Isidro Carrizoza, Jr. the win.
In game two, York got a solid outing from starter Tyler Molder on the hill as he went four, allowed three hits and struck out six batters. OBU broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning and held the 1-0 lead until the seventh when York tied the game on a squeeze play. The Panthers got the eventual game-winner in the eighth on a Tyler Helms home run to hand Jesus Carlos his second loss of the day and Carrizoza was credited the save.
York extended Oklahoma Baptist's slide to three games before the Bison took the series finale on Saturday in a doubleheader split. York won 4-1 in Saturday's opening game as Josh Knoll took no-hitters past the fifth inning. In the final game of the series, the Bison held the Panthers scoreless while York's Tom Korn allowed 4 runs on 8 hits.
Head Coach Nick Harlan says he is optimistic about the season ahead and that the team has great chemistry and leadership. While he expects that will bring success, he stresses that his team is focused on playing in the moment.
“It is early to make predictions, but I am confident that we have enough depth to play well consistently. We will win one day at a time if we continue to get better every day,” he said.
He also commented the team's more tangible assets. “On the field we have strong starting pitching, a solid bullpen and a good defensive club.”
The Panthers are now 6-2 on the season and are again in play this weekend. They will face off against Wayland Baptist and Northwood University on Saturday and then take on Northwood again on Sunday in a double header.
In the preseason Coaches Poll, York received 65 points putting them just outside the NAIA's top 25. They finished the 2012 season 42-16, winning their 3rd consecutive MCAC title and earning an invitation to the opening round of the NAIA Championships. Coach Harlan and Associate Head Coach Brian Walth enter their tenth year directing the program, averaging 35 wins per year while amassing an overall record of 280-159.
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