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The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

The Student News Site of University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

The Trend

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Bill Smith Hosted Little League Night

Laura Barrios Bardi
Towards the middle of the game, the little league players gathered by the USAO dugout for a photo.

USAO baseball (24-13, 10-6 SAC) took on the 24th NAIA ranked Oklahoma City University (OCU) Stars (25-13, 11-5) Thursday, Apr. 24, in the first game of a three-game series. Prior to this matchup, USAO and OCU were tied for second in the Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) standings and were two games behind first place Mid-America Christian University (MACU). 

Not only was this an important conference contest, but it was also Little League Appreciation Night, which was organized by a Sports Management class on campus. This event showcased local little league baseball players before the opening pitch and invited them to return foul balls for special prizes. 

Starting the game at the mound for USAO was junior Kyler Denton, who started off strong by getting all three of OCU’s hitters out in order. OCU also had luck pitching, copying the Drovers in getting three straight outs to finish the first inning.   

The second inning saw USAO give up a single on the defensive end but stopped any hope of a rally for the Stars by getting two quick outs. OCU got the better of the Drovers by getting an out on the first batter. However, junior third basemen Ben Bach broke the ice for the Drovers with a single. After his play, junior catcher Gunnar Hansen was out after hitting a fly ball toward right field. With two outs and Bach on first, junior second basemen Ian Ortiz came in clutch with a home run to right field for his fifth homer of the year. The little league athletes erupted with joy in the crowd after seeing this play, and the inning ended with a 2-0 lead for USAO.   

USAO started the third inning with two quick outs, but Denton’s pitching streak was cut short with a home run from the Stars. After this, he walked the next batter, and the defense ended the inning with an out to centerfield. Offensively, junior left fielder Gage Ninness was able to crack a single to left field, but the Drovers couldn’t build off it. After three innings, USAO still held the lead at 2-1.  

Inning four was a continuation of good pitching from Denton. Although he allowed a single, Denton got two strikeouts in a row to advance to the bottom of the inning. OCU answered back to the Drovers in a devastating way though. Senior first basemen Peyton McDowall was walked to start off, but they struck out Bach right after. Hansen hit a pop up to first which gave the Stars a double play as they caught it and tagged out McDowell. 

Things were looking positive for the Drovers going into the fifth, but the taunts from the little leaguers weren’t enough to stop the Stars. OCU left fielder Barrett Daniel started off the inning with a home run, tying the game 2-2. The rest of the inning did not have much action from either side. 

OCU applied pressure during the sixth inning, starting with a double to left field followed by a walk. With two players on base and two outs, the Stars hit a single to junior right-fielder Gabriel Arroyo where he made a major throw to home plate to get their runner out. Despite the spectacular play on defense, the Drovers batting crew were unable to record any runs, leaving the score at 2-2.  

After six innings, two runs, and four strikeouts, Denton stepped off the mound with junior Ryan Cullinane taking his place. The first batter for the Stars was able to hit a double followed by an out at first base and a strikeout. OCU then managed a single giving them enough time to cross home plate again and swipe the lead of 3-2. Switching sides, Bach was walked on the first at-bat, but OCU got three straight outs to end the seventh inning.   

Cullinane fired up the Drovers to start the eighth inning as he struck out two Stars and allowed none of them on base. This spark did not follow the Drovers to the plate, with Arroyo getting the only hit of the inning as he singled to centerfield.  

The final inning saw another substitution onto the mound with junior Rob Schmidt. He looked to help close out the game as he had one strikeout and kept OCU off the score board. After McDowell and Bach were out on their batting opportunities, Hansen was the only hope to give USAO a win on Little League Appreciation Night. However, he was unable to do so after being struck out, giving the Stars the win in a close battle of 3-2.   

The standouts for the Drover batting crew include Ortiz going 1-3 with two RBI’s off the home run he hit. Arroyo made that outstanding play in the sixth inning, as well as going 2-4 hitting.   

Although the little league kids didn’t see a win tonight, hopefully they’ll come out again for the end of the series Saturday, Apr. 13, starting at 1 p.m. and game two starting at 3 p.m. The Drovers are currently in third place in the SAC with this loss. However, they could take back second place if they win the next two games of this series along with a chance to get to first place before the season ends.   


Matthew Yokum is a second-year communication major at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

Ray Thomas-Lapham
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About the Contributors
Matthew Yokum
Matthew Yokum, Senior Writer
Matthew is a second-year communication major from Chickasha. He is also a member of USAO's men's soccer team. When he’s not kicking a ball or writing, you can find Matthew at home watching his favorite TV shows.   Experience with The Trend: Senior Writer: May 2023 - present Contributing Writer: Aug. 2022 - April 2023
Laura Barrios Bardi
Laura Barrios Bardi, Contributing Photographer
Laura Barrios Bardi a third-year art major from El Paso, TX. Laura currently works for USAO's Sports Information Department as a photographer. She is also a member of USAO's track and field team. Her hobbies include stargazing, spending time with friends, and working towards elevating her photography skills.   Experience with The Trend: Contributing Photographer: Nov. 2022 - present