Score: No. 3 North Dakota State 4 – No. 1 Oral Roberts 6
Records: NDSU (26-23) – ORU (37-18)
Location: Tulsa, Okla. (J.L. Johnson Stadium)
TULSA, Okla. – A five-run seventh inning helped the Oral Roberts baseball team rally for a crucial victory over North Dakota State, 6-4, Thursday night in The Summit League Championship semifinal at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
Noah Cummings belted a solo home run in the first, but the Bison scored three runs on a bases-clearing double in the bottom half of the frame and added another run in the sixth for a 4-1 edge. The Golden Eagles responded in a big way with RBI singles from Cummings and Spencer Henson before eventually taking the lead on a bases-loaded walk by Riley Keizor.
ORU's bullpen shut the door over the final three innings as Taylor Varnell and Kyler Stout electrified the crowd to the finish. Stout earned his 14th save of the season and picked up a hard-fought win on the mound for senior Justin McGregor, who threw six innings.
Quotes of the Day
"That was a heck of a game. That's as good as it gets this time of year. I thought both teams played really well and we hung in there. When you look back at it, I think this is the reason you play all those tough teams. It's to prepare you for moments like that. We hung in there, kept our composure, got that big inning and then our bullpen was really good from there." – Head Coach Ryan Folmar
Facing a three-run deficit and running out of time late in the contest, Harrison Smith laced a lead-off double to the wall in left starting the rally for ORU. After NDSU recorded an out, Cal Hernandez singled to left putting runners on the corners and Cummings beat the Bison shift for a RBI single. Henson followed ripping another single back up the middle scoring Hernandez from second and Andrew Pace walked loading the bases. Nick Rotola beat out a bobbled ball on the infield bringing home the tying run and Keizor watched ball foul high and away to score the go-ahead run. Trevor McCutchin added an insurance run hitting a RBI groundout as the Golden Eagles gave their bullpen a two-run advantage.
Inside the Box Score
- Varnell was at his best for two innings allowing just two, soft singles and retired the next five batters, including striking out the side in the eighth. Stout finished where his fellow senior left off and fanned all three batters faced in the ninth earning his 14th save.
- On his solo home run in the first, Cummings tied Mike Shambaugh for second place in ORU history in career RBI (195). He added a RBI single in the seventh taking sole possession of second finishing 2-for-5 adding two runs scored.
- Hernandez continued his impressive run in the championship going 1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored. Pace and Keizor also drew two walks as the Golden Eagles capitalized on free passes all night drawing seven total walks.
- McGregor struggled to find his command early in the ballgame, but settled in for the middle innings and was effective for six frames moving to 6-1 on the season. The senior allowed four runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks taking advantage of more impressive defense.
ORU advances to The Summit League Championship final starting at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The Golden Eagles will face the winner of Friday night's matchup between North Dakota State and South Dakota State that gets underway at 6 p.m. on the ORU Sports Network.
For the latest information on ORU Baseball, follow the Golden Eagles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading two mobile apps, ORU Golden Eagles Live and ORU Front Row, available on the App Store and Google Play.