UAFS fell from the ranks of the unbeaten in the Heartland Conference, but the Diamond Lions were able to force a split in their series-opening doubleheader against Rogers State on Friday afternoon at the Diamond Complex in Claremore, Okla.
UAFS (8-5, 4-1) lost the opening game 3-2 but won the second game 7-6. The Diamond Lions will play for the series win against the Hillcats (8-5, 2-3), who are provisional members of NCAA Division II, at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning of the opening game, UAFS rallied to take a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning of a scheduled seven-inning game, scoring a single run on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Brennan Rogers in the sixth and a single run on sacrifice fly by catcher Justin Shealy in the top of the ninth.
Diamond Lions reliever Eric Tiefenthaler relieved starter Wayde Roth after seven innings and pitched a scoreless eighth. He struck out outfielder Logan Palmer to start the ninth inning but worked himself into a jam.
Tiefenthaler gave up a single to outfielder John Seifried and walked outfielder Alex Cochran to put the winning run on base. He got shortstop Chase Knott to fly out to right field for the second out but a wild pitch allowed Seifried and Cochran to move into scoring position.
He then walked first baseman Caleb Kohlmeyer to load the bases for right fielder Blake Gipson. Gipson ended the game with a two-run single up the middle.
Tiefenthaler (1-1) suffered the loss, allowing two earned runs on four hits with four walks and two strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings. Rogers State collected six hits – all singles – and left 11 runners on base.
Cochran was 2 for 4 to lead the Hillcats, while Gipson was 1 for 3 with two RBI and Kohlmeyer was 1 for 2 with one RBI.
UAFS collected five hits off two Rogers State pitchers. Reliever Kyle Duncan (1-0) earned the win, allowing one earned run on one hit in one inning. Rogers was 2 for 3 with one RBI to lead the Diamond Lions, who left six runners on base.
Trailing 6-3 going into the top of the sixth inning of the seven-inning, second game, the Lions erupted for four runs off starter T.J. Law to take a one-run lead.
Left fielder Josh Vanderpool and catcher Justin Shealy led off the inning with consecutive singles and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Matt Turner.
Vanderpool scored on a single through the left side by second baseman Mitch Huckabay, and Shealy scored when center fielder Curtis Clark reached on an error. Huckabay, who stole second, moved to third on the error. Clark stole second to move into scoring position before right fielder CJ Nelson grounded out to short to drive in Huckabay to tie the game.
Shortstop Ozzie Hurt drove in Clark with a single to short to give the Diamond Lions the lead. Hurt moved to second on a wild pitch by middle reliever Collin Thomas, who was relieved by Collin Thomas.
Thomas walked third baseman Ryan Justus before getting Rogers to fly out to right field to end the inning.
That was just enough run support for Diamond Lions reliever Hayden Harvey. Harvey (1-0), who replaced starter Darrin Pittman after three innings, allowed just two hits with one walk and five strikeouts over four innings of scoreless relief to earn the win.
UAFS collected all nine of its hits off Law (1-3), who allowed seven runs – five earned – with two walks and four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. Nelson was 2 for 4 with one RBI, Hurt was 2 for 3 with one RBI, Justus was 1 for 1 with one RBI, Vanderpool was 1 for 3, Shealy was 1 for 4, Huckabay was 1 for 2 with one RBI and Clark was 1 for 2 with one RBI. Rogers also had two RBI.
Rogers State had nine hits, including three for extra bases. Kohlmeyer was 3 for 4 with a double, third baseman Ryan Hendricks was 2 for 3 with two doubles, Seifried was 2 for 3 with two RBI and right fielder Blake Gipson was 1 for 4 with one RBI.