Oakland Earns Second
Consecutive 20-Win Season in 2004
Oakland baseball had a
rough start to its 2004 campaign as they dropped the first eight games
of the season. A four-game tilt against Kansas got things going as part
of the teamís spring trip. The Golden Grizzlies hung with the Jayhawks
in the first two meetings before being edged by scores of 6-3 and 7-2.
The last two games proved to be a different story altogether though as
they fell 17-4 and 17-2. Oakland wrapped things up down south with a
pair of tough losses against Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels squeaked
out a 10-9 decision and a 22-18 slugfest.
second-team all-conference honors and led the Mid-Con with 18
The next six games took
place on the road against interstate rivals Wright State and Ohio
University. Oakland once again was on the losing end of two more close
games, including a 3-2, 17-inning marathon. The teamís tenacity would
finally pay off the very next day against Wright State as Oakland picked
up its first win of the season with a 9-6 decision. Starting pitcher
Kyle Boehm took care of things on the
mound to earn the decision while Ty
Herriott led the offense with a pair of homeruns.
The Golden Grizzlies
went on to win their next three games after that, sweeping Ohio in a
three-game set before beating Detroit, 4-2, in the opening game of the
Michigan Classic on March 27th.
Michael Trosen aided the cause with
impressive numbers during Oaklandís first three wins. He hit .455 with
five hits in 11 at-bats, six RBI, two runs, two doubles and a homerun.
He also had a .909 slugging percentage and a .455 on-base mark, which
earned him Mid-Con Player of the Week honors.
Oaklandís run though just hours after the Detroit win, snapping their
five-game win streak and sending the team into a tailspin that saw them
drop their next 10-games over a two week span. The fact that Oakland
was competing against top-tier teams in Michigan, Eastern Michigan and
Ohio State during that stretch provided little solace as their record
fell to 5-18 following a 14-4 loss against the Buckeyes.
The team regrouped and
went on to win five of their next eight. Boehm once again came through
to get Oakland back in the win column with a 4-3 decision at home
against Madonna on April 9th. Following a shocking loss to
Rochester College, Oakland came back to earn a 5-4 win at home against
Central Michigan for the first time in over five years. Freshman
Ryan Heath tripled to bring in the
tying run in the tenth inning and scored the winning run on the same
play as the Chippewas made an error trying to throw him out at third.
Brad Morenko allowed just three
hits and struck out two batters over the final five innings to pick up
Boehm led the team
with 73 strikeouts and was an Academic All-Mid-Con pick.
After falling to Notre
Dame, Oakland took three out of four from Southern Utah at home to open
up Mid-Con play. Game one starter Steve
Kniebbe got Oakland started in the right direction, earning a
9-3 decision. He allowed only one earned run on six hits and fanned six
batters in eight innings of work. Herriott hit a three-run blast in the
third inning to put the Golden Grizzlies ahead to stay and tally his
ninth homerun of the season. Southern Utah rebounded to take game two
on the day, forcing Oakland to settle for a doubleheader split.
Oakland responded the
next day by taking both games. In game one pitcher
Dominic Carmosino dominated the
Thunderbirds, striking out a season-high eight hitters. He went eight
innings and allowed only one earned run on six hits in an 8-5 win.
Freshman Kurt Rosenacker
provided some more last inning heroics for Oakland in game two of the
series finale with a walk-off homerun to give his team a 17-15 win.
That brought Oaklandís overall record to 10-21 and gave them a 3-1 mark
in the conference.
The next conference
series saw Oakland head to Valparaiso to take on the Crusaders. The
Golden Grizzlies were in fear of being swept as they dropped the first
three games before sophomore Billy
Schmieder pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing only two
hits and striking out eight batters, for a 4-0 win in the final game.
After dropping its
second meeting with Toledo, Oakland picked up a pair of game two wins in
its doubleheader weekend at Western Illinois. Boehm and Carmosino each
picked up their third win of the season. Boehm pitched a complete game,
two-hit, shutout with five strikeouts in day one for the 6-0 victory.
Carmosino also went the distance the following day, allowing three runs
on six hits, while recording six strikeouts in a 5-3 decision.
Following the Western
Illinois series Oakland stood at 13-27 overall and 6-6 in the Mid-Con.
They stood tied for third place in the conference with Valparaiso behind
Western and frontrunner, Oral Roberts. Centenary held the final playoff
spot at fourth place, but was just two games behind the Golden
Grizzlies. With 12 of Oaklandís remaining 14 games taking place in
conference, and a series finale showdown with Centenary yet to come, it
appeared a bid in the conference tournament might come down to the last
day of the season.
13 starts and
73.1 innings pitched.
Before all the drama
would unfold though Oakland had a chance to improve its position in the
conference standings as they hosted Chicago State in a four-game swing.
Oakland got the series started off right with a 7-6 win that required a
come-from-behind effort. After trailing by four runs late in the game,
Oakland reeled off five runs over the final three innings.
Ryan Freiburger sealed the win
with the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth to drive in
Bryan Marulli and give Morenko
the win. Chicago State came back and managed to squeak out a win in the
second game by a 6-4 count.
The Golden Grizzlies
sought vengeance the next day by taking both games from the Cougars.
They took out their frustrations from the previous days loss in game one
with a 22-1 pasting. Carmosino pitched a complete game for the win and
did not allow Chicago Stateís run until the last inning. He allowed
seven hits and recorded seven strikeouts. Four different players
homered for Oakland, including two from Herriott.
It took a little longer
for Oakland to score in game two but the result was the same with a 4-2
win. Rosenacker hit a sacrifice fly in the
fifth to drive in Marulli, who beat the tag on a bunt single one batter
earlier, as part of a three-run inning. Marulli
finished 5-for-8 on the day with two RBIs and
three runs scored to help Herriott in pacing the Oakland offense.
Oakland picked up two
more wins in non-conference action, to match its longest streak of the
season at five games. Once again the Golden Grizzlies edged Central
Michigan by a 2-1 score to start a seven-game road trip.
Morenko pitched five and 2-3 shutout innings
and allowed just two hits. Tim Doig
and John Sullivan drove in both
runs with back-to-back doubles in the sixth inning. The next day Heath
hit a two-run double in the eighth inning to guide Oakland to a 9-5 win
over Bowling Green.
Oaklandís win streak came to a halt in Tulsa,
Okla. when they were swept in a four-game set against Oral Roberts.
They rebounded with an exciting 12-8 win at Eastern Michigan. Marulli
hit a three-run homerun with two outs in the ninth, to help cap off a
six-run inning. Freshman Scott Boleski
picked up his second win of the season for the Golden Grizzlies.
The skid against Oral Roberts forced Oakland
into a must-win situation as they hosted Centenary in a four-game series
to close out the season. Both teams needed an edge in the series finale
as they battled for the final playoff spot in the conference tournament.
Sullivan was named
all-conference and finished the season on a 19-game hitting streak.
Centenary gained the
advantage in the first game with a 12-10 win over Oakland. Despite a
pair of homeruns from conference leader Ty Herriott, Centenary managed
to hang on. Oakland displayed resilience by responding with six runs
over three innings in game two though and captured a 6-4 win to keep its
playoff hopes alive. Freiburger drove in the winning run in the fourth
inning with a single to right field.
Getting the final two
games in the following day proved to be a problem as overnight downpours
flooded OU Field. This forced the teams to travel to Blissfield,
Michigan for the second doubleheader. Sullivan accounted for one-third
of Oaklandís hits with a 2-for-4 performance at the plate that included
a two-run homerun in the fourth inning, but a four-run outburst by
Centenary in the top half of that inning proved too big an obstacle for
the Golden Grizzlies to overcome. The Gents went on to a 5-3 win to
close out Oaklandís season as they failed to make the playoffs for the
second year in a row and third time in five seasons. The rains
eventually caught up with the two teams, forcing the cancellation of an
inconsequential fourth game. Oakland closed out its season at 20-34
overall and a sixth place finish in the conference at 10-13.
John Sullivan and Ty
Herriott represented Oakland on the all-conference teams. Sullivan, who
finished the season on a 19-game hitting streak, earned first-team
All-Mid-Con honors at the catcher spot. He hit a team-best .348 with 12
homeruns. Herriott earned second-team accolades at first base. He hit
.340 with a school-record and league-leading 18 homeruns and 50 RBI.
Despite missing the
conference tournament Oakland was able to match last seasonís record for
their second consecutive 20-win season and won 10 games in conference
for the first time in four years. Something head coach
Mark Avery will challenge his team
to improve upon next season, keeping them headed in the right direction
and ensuring the future success of Oakland baseball.