NORMAN, Okla -- After competing for the Big 12 Conference title into the final weekend of the regular season, several Oklahoma baseball players carried over that same championship mentality into the summer and made a difference for a number of teams throughout the country. Five of the Sooners’ nine returning players that competed on summer collegiate teams over the past few months were in contention for postseason championships.
For the second year in a row, a pair of Sooners helped their team capture a Cape Cod League title. Following in the footsteps of former Sooners David Purcey and Mike Swindell who won a championship with the Orleans Cardinals in the summer of 2003, junior shortstop Ryan Rohlinger and senior righthanded pitcher Daniel McCutchen combined to lead their Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox to a Cape Cod League championship.
Rohlinger was named the SportsTicker/ESPN Playoff Most Valuable Player after batting .429 during the postseason with three runs scored and five RBI. He shared the honors with fellow Y-D teammate Josh Faiola, a pitcher from Dartmouth. They were the first Yarmouth-Dennis players to win playoff MVP accolades in 14 years.
Rohlinger made several clutch hits throughout the playoffs to take home the MVP award. One of his three hits during the first game of the division series was a two-run double in Yarmouth-Dennis’ 9-1 win. In the first game of the league championship series, he hit another run-scoring double in the first inning and then capped off the contest with a game-winning solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning.
In the second game of the league series, Rohlinger successfully executed the squeeze bunt to extend the Red Sox’s lead as they went on to win the game.
McCutchen also provided a clutch performance on the mound for the Red Sox in the playoffs. In his one postseason start, the senior righty pitched six scoreless innings to pick up the win in the first game of the divisional series against the Brewster Whitecaps. McCutchen allowed only six hits while striking out nine.
Rohlinger finished the regular season batting .258, fourth best on the team, with 16 runs scored and 15 RBI.
McCutchen ended the regular season tied for the team lead in wins with a 5-1 record. He posted a 1.58 ERA and allowed only 32 hits in 45.2 innings of work while averaging nearly a strikeout per inning.
Competing for a league championship of his own across the country, junior second baseman Russell Raley’s Graham Roughnecks came up short in the hunt for the inaugural Texas Collegiate Baseball League title. Although they clinched the Rogers Hornsby Division crown at the end of the regular season, the Roughnecks fell 2-1 to the Tris Speaker Division champ Coppell Copperheads in the best of three league championship series.
Despite failing to bring home a team championship, Raley’s regular season performance earned him a spot in the TCL Dr Pepper Futures Game at the end of the postseason. He was one of the league’s top 52 prospects that were selected to compete in the Futures Game by Major League scouts and league officials. Raley’s White team defeated the Grey team, 6-2.
Raley impressed the selection committee by leading Graham in hitting during the regular season with a .295 average and contributing 13 runs scored and 17 RBI.
Ryan Mottern’s La Crosse Loggers team also advanced to postseason play in the Northwoods League. Winners of the first half of the Southern Division, the Loggers fell to the second half divisional champion Madison Mallards in two games. For the season, the sophomore righthander struck out 27 batters in 25 innings pitched.
Junior pitcher Tyler Gooch took his skills across the border and played in British Columbia, Canada, in the Pacific International League. While playing for the Kelowna Falcons, Gooch posted a 5-2 record on the mound with a 3.25 ERA and helped lead his team to an International Division title and a runner-up finish for the league championship.
Junior utility player Jon Shackelford’s El Dorado Broncos’ second place finish in the Jayhawk League advanced them into the National Baseball Congress World Series where they finished in fourth place.
Although outfielders Chad Lembeck and Scott Rooker’s teams both finished near the bottom of the Alaska Baseball League, both players enjoyed promising individual summers. Lembeck led the Anchorage Glacier Pilots in RBI with 19 and added 12 runs scored while being a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts. Rooker contributed eight runs scored and 11 RBI for the Athletes In Action squad.
In addition to playing in the outfield, sophomore Aaron Ivey was also given the opportunity to pitch. Ivey saw 3.1 innings of work for the Mineral Wells Steam of the Texas Collegiate League.