TULSA, Okla. - Eighth-ranked Cal State Fullerton proved to be a tough test on Friday night as they topped the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at J.L. Johnson Stadium, 5-0.
Prior to the game, the Golden Eagle baseball program honored former player and fallen Marine, Captain Ryan Iannelli, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011. There was also an Army swearing in ceremony at home plate, the National Guard presented the colors and a member of the ORU ROTC sang the national anthem.
The loss drops the Golden Eagle record to 5-11, while the Titans of Fullerton improve to 14-3. Game two of the three game series is set for a 2 p.m. start on Saturday.
Pitching well through the first six innings was Oral Roberts starter Alex Gonzalez (1-4). The junior struck out eight batters, but allowed two runs in the top of the seventh and three in the eighth.
Thomas Eshelman earned the victory for the Titans (4-1).
The Golden Eagles had several opportunities as the game went along to score some runs, eventually tying the Titans with a total of six hits. On four different occasions, the Golden Eagles had runners in scoring position, but were unable to cash in on the chances.
Of those chances, Nate Goro found himself in a position to score a run twice after he singled in the second, reaching second on a groundout, and he doubled in the seventh. Goro finished the game with three hits in as many at bats.
Following Goro's double in the seventh, the Golden Eagles had their best opportunity to push a runner across, trailing 2-0, but Austin Colt was robbed of a double down the left field line by a diving Fullerton third baseman.
The Titans scored their first two runs of the ball game in the top of the seventh on a couple of base hits and a pair of walks. After the ORU half of the seventh, the Titans added three more in a crazy top of the eighth.
The inning began with a triple into the right field corner from Carlos Lopez. Two batters later, J.D. Davis reached base as Lopez was caught in a run down. However, Lopez was eventually ruled safe when the Golden Eagles were unable to apply a tag, allowing Davis to advance to second.
ORU played the percentages with Michael Lorenzen at the plate, allowing him to take first with an intentional walk to load the bases. Unfortunately, the call didn't work in the Golden Eagle favor as Chad Wallach drew a walk as well to score Lopez.
For the second time this year, an opponent laid down a suicide squeeze against the Golden Eagles with the bases loaded. Keegan Dale executed the play perfectly, putting down a bunt that allowed Davis to score.
However, a mental breakdown by the ORU defense was neglected the runner originally standing on second. Recognizing the situation, Lorenzen sprinted for home, scoring uncontested.
Friday's loss is the Golden Eagles seventh in a row.