Bennett, Bowen Lead ORU to Victory in Tournament Opener
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.-T.J. Bennett cracked a pair of homers and knocked in five runs, and Drew Bowen tossed a complete game shutout to lead top-seeded Oral Roberts to a 12-0 win over Western Illinois in the opening round of the Summit League Tournament presented by American Airlines , Thursday at Sioux Falls Stadium.
The Golden Eagles won their 34th consecutive Summit League Tournament game and improved to 43-1 all-time in tournament play. ORU (34-20) next moves onto the winner's bracket championship game at 3 p.m., Friday. The Golden Eagles will face the winner of tonight's game between second seed South Dakota State and third seed North Dakota State.
Bennett, a freshman third baseman, enjoyed the best single game of his young career against the Leathernecks, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored before being lifted for a pinch runner in the seventh. Bowen scattered six hits and struck out seven batters in the first nine-inning complete game effort of his career.
The Golden Eagles needed little time in taking control of the game, scoring five runs in the first inning against Western Illinois (21-37) starting pitcher Dan Russell (6-7).
Brandon King started the scoring when his single to right scored Nick Baligod for a 1-0 lead. After a walk to Cam Schiller, Jared Schlehuber hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead. Bennett followed with a three-run homer off the foul pole in left field to make it 5-0.
Bennett hit a long solo home run to straightaway left field with one out in the fourth to make it 6-0. In the fifth Baligod belted a solo home run and King added a sac fly to give the Golden Eagles an 8-0 advantage.
An RBI single by Joey Winiecki in the sixth made it 9-0, and ORU put the game away with three runs in the seventh.
The Golden Eagles finished the day with 15 hits. Chris Elder went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, and Baligod and King had two hits apiece. King and Schlehuber each drove in two runs.
ORU's 1-7 hitters were a combined 15-for-29 with 12 RBI.
Russell allowed eight runs (two earned) on seven hits in five innings for the Leathernecks.