Ouachita Christian 9, Sterlington 4
LAMKIN — Connor McKoin touched off a pair of prodigious three-run home runs Thursday night, sending Ouachita Christian to a 9-4 victory over Sterlington.
OCS (21-9, 5-0 District 2-2A) visits Sterlington (22-5, 4-1) for the return game Saturday at 2 p.m.
Both teams came into Thursday's game riding double-digit winning streaks. OCS won its 14th straight, while halting the Panthers' 11-game streak.
"Even if we had won, we would have only clinched being co-champs," said Sterlington coach Mark Sims, whose team is currently No. 1 in the Class 2A power rankings. "The fun game will be Saturday. It's for a first-place T-shirt. We're fighting to stay in the top four."
Going to work right out of the chute, the Panthers struck for a deuce in the top of the first.
Jarrett McDonald singled sharply up the middle, Jacob Barr followed with an infield single and Brooks Rushworth was safe on an error to load the bases with nobody out. McDonald darted home on Dalton Dopson's groundout to first base.
With two down, Davis Johnson banged an RBI single, giving the Panthers a 2-0 advantage before stranding two runners.
"We scored a couple in the first, and were hoping for more because we knew it would be hard to get to O'Neal again. He does a good job," Sims said.
Sterlington wouldn't solve OCS senior right-hander Ty O'Neal again until the seventh. O'Neal allowed only two base runners over the next five innings on a hit batsman and an error, before running into some trouble in the seventh.
By then, the Eagles were in command, 9-2.
Sterlington's lead was short-lived. Consecutive one-out singles by Bryce Wallace and Skylar Wilhite placed runners at the corners. One out later, McKoin launched a three-run MOAB bomb over the left-center wall to put the Eagles ahead to stay.
"We had a chance to get out of the inning, and we hang a 3-2 curveball, and McKoin hits it out," Sims said.
Two innings later, Wallace led off with a base hit to right and scampered to third on Dale Fulmer's double just inside the left field line. Next up, McKoin crushed a 3-1 offering over the left field wall as the Eagles' lead swelled to 6-2. Both of McKoin's home runs cleared the railroad tracks.
"We make another mistake, and he puts it over (Highway) 165," Sims said.
Stepping to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out, McKoin had an opportunity to added to his RBI total in the fifth. He popped out to Johnson in right field, but Clint Hargrove picked up the slack with a two-run double to left.
Britton Mulhearn was hit by a pitch to start the OCS sixth and eventually scored on the front end of a double steal, bringing the score to 9-2.
Sterlington put up two in the seventh.
Kevin Alfaro reached on a leadoff error and Brayden Hough hit into a force play for the first out. Luke Denman, running for Hough, moved to second on Spencer Davis' groundout. McDonald drove in Denman with a base hit to center and scored on Barr's RBI double.
O'Neal, a Northwestern State signee, allowed one earned run on five hits, while striking out five and walking none and hitting one.
McKoin (2-for-3, 2 HRs, 6 RBI, 2 R) spearheaded the Eagles' eight-hit attack. Hargrove doubled and singled, Wallace went 2-for-2 and scored three times, Fulmer doubled and Wilhite singled.
Batting from the 1-2 spots in the lineup, McDonald went 2-for-4 and scored two runs, and Barr drove in two with a double and a single. The Panthers' next seven hitters were a collective 1-for-21, with Davis' single as the only hit.
Sterlington starter Trey Rugg worked four innings, with Will Wohlers, Will Rushing and Taylor Martin finishing up.