TULSA, Okla.-After a tough 4-3, 10-inning loss to North Dakota State sent them to the loser's bracket, Oral Roberts rebounded to top Oakland 3-2 in the elimination game to advance to the Summit League Championship game for the 15th consecutive time.
ORU (35-23) will face the Bison again at 1 p.m. on Saturday. A North Dakota State win would crown the Bison as 2012 Tournament champions, while an ORU win would force a winner-take-all contest immediately following the conclusion of the first game.
North Dakota State 4 - Oral Roberts 3 (10 Innings)
Starter Alex Gonzalez was rolling early and had a no-hitter going through five innings as the Golden Eagles built a 3-0 lead in the first game of the day.
A Jared Schlehuber single and Brandon King walk put runners on in the second inning. Kevin Cho plated one run on a single up the middle, while Pickar dropped down a squeeze bunt to score another, giving ORU a 2-0 lead.
Despite additional chances with runners in scoring position, the Golden Eagles failed to score another insurance run, leaving nine runners on base in the game.
It finally caught up in the bottom of the eighth as the Bison strung together back-to-back doubles to start the inning. After a throwing error put three straight runners on, and forced Gonzalez from the game. Back-to-back singles tied the game before reliever Joe Spring was able to get a strike out and fly out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 10th, Max Casper started a NDSU rally with a leadoff single. Squaring to sacrifice, Tim Colwell slapped the ball in the hole at short for a single instead, and Nick Colwell completed the sacrifice to move Casper over to third. Wes Satzinger ended the game with a deep fly ball that scored Casper to send the Bison to the championship game for the first time.
Spring (5-2) took the loss on the mound for ORU, giving up just one run in 2.2 innings of work. Kyle Kingsley was the winning pitcher (7-3), after going 2.0 innings without giving up a hit for Oakland.
No one for ORU had more than one hit, while Tim Colwell and Casper each had a pair of base-knocks for North Dakota State.
Oral Roberts 3 - Oakland 2
In game two, Oakland took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first as they took advantage of a leadoff walk and a passed ball to score Tim Ryan on a Mike Carson sacrifice fly. ORU found the answer in the bottom half of the inning as a Domenico leadoff double led to a run on a sacrifice fly by Schlehuber.
With a pair of runners on in each of the second and third innings, ORU had an opportunity to take the lead but could not.
Oakland moved back on top 2-1 in the fourth when the Golden Grizzlies strung together three singles to plate Carson, who led off the inning by driving one up the middle.
ORU was in business in the bottom of the sixth after the first two batters in the inning-Cam Schiller and Brandon King-were hit. A sacrifice bunt from Bennett Pickar put them at second and third with just one out. Kevin Cho took advantage, knocking one through the hole on the left side, scoring two runs after the ball bounced off the OU fielder's glove and into left field. As the OU pitcher collided with a player behind the plate, interference was called and Cho was called out on the play. The Golden Eagles would not plate another run, but took the 3-2 lead on the play.
Oakland loaded the bases in the top of the seventh but a high fastball by reliever Matt Rush got Carson swinging and got ORU out of the jam with the lead intact.
Trying to add some insurance, the Golden Eagles loaded the bases again in the eighth but could not plate a run, send the game to the ninth inning.
Rush held the lead and survived to advance to the championship game for the 15th year in a row.
Starter Kurt Giller earned the victory (6-4) while Rush earned his fourth save of the season. Hayden Fox (2-7) took the loss for OU after going 5.2 innings and giving up eight hits.
Schiller and Nate Goro each had a pair of hits for ORU, with Schlehuber and Cho earning an RBI each.