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Golden Eagles Fall in Extra Innings, 7-6

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 06/04/2010
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Chris Elder connects on a solo home run in the fourth inning of ORU's 7-6 loss at Oklahoma.
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NORMAN, Okla.—Chris Ellison’s two-out single in the bottom of the tenth inning catapulted No. 11 Oklahoma to a 7-6 win over Oral Roberts in the opening game of the NCAA Norman Regional, Friday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.

The loss moves fourth-seeded ORU (35-26) into a loser’s bracket matchup at 1 p.m. Saturday against either No. 2 seed California or third-seeded North Carolina. The Bears and Tar Heels play at 7 p.m., Friday. Oklahoma (45-15) will play the winner Saturday at 7 p.m.

With the bases loaded in the 10th, Ellison bounced Sean Johnson’s 0-1 pitch up the middle and just off of second baseman Colby Price’s glove, allowing Cody Reine to score from third with the winning run.

The game went to extra innings due in part to Reine’s solo home run off Johnson (2-4) in the eighth inning. But OU second baseman Danny Black made a game-saving play in the top of the ninth.

With runners on first and second and one out for ORU, Tyler Saladino lined an offering from Ryan Duke (2-0) up the middle for what appeared to be a run-scoring single. But Black knocked the ball down before it reached the outfield, keeping P.J. Sequeira at third base and the game tied. Duke then struck out Brett Sowers and Price to end the threat.

Oklahoma jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the second. The first run scored when Saladino mishandled a one-out ground ball with the bases loaded. A Max White sacrifice fly three batters later gave the Sooners and unearned run and a 2-0 lead.

Another ORU error gave Oklahoma a 3-0 in the fourth. Black led off with a double and attempted to advance on a wild pitch. He scored when catcher Bennett Pickar threw wildly to third.

After OU starting pitcher Michael Rocha retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced, the Golden Eagles finally broke through in the top of the fourth when Chris Elder launched an opposite field solo home run to cut the lead to 3-1.

Oklahoma appeared to take control of the game with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Tyler Ogle and Black each had RBI single as the Sooners went up, 5-1.

But the Golden Eagles finally got to Rocha in the top of the sixth. Sequeira started the inning with a single and moved to second on a walk to Nick Baligod. Saladino blasted an 0-1 offering over the leftfield fence for a three-run homer, pulling ORU within 5-4.

Elder chased Rocha from the game with a double, and Seth Furmanek greeted reliever Jeremy Erben with an opposite field home run, putting ORU on top 6-5. The home run was Furmanek’s 23rd of the season, tying the Summit League single-season record, and also gave ORU a team-record 101 home runs for the season.

The game remained 6-5 until Reien’s home run in the eighth, thanks to fine relief pitching by both Johnson and Erben. Johnson retired the first seven batters he faced after relieving Smolen to start the sixth, and Erben didn’t allow a run after the Furmanek homer.

ORU out-hit the Sooners, 13-11 but the Golden Eagles left six runners on base over the last three innings. Saladino finished 3-for-5 with three RBI while Sequeira, Baligod, Elder and Furmanek had two hits each.

Despite suffering the loss, Johnson struck out a career-high seven batters in 4.2 innings. He allowed five hits and walked three (two intentionally).

Black led OU with four hits.

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