Barnett’s Hit Lifts Golden Eagles to 14th Straight Summit League Title
The victory not only gives ORU an automatic berth to next weekend’s NCAA Regionals, but also extends the Golden Eagles’ tournament championship streak to 14 straight, tying Wichita State (1987-2000) for the second-longest in collegiate baseball history. The regional appearance will be the 24th in program history.
Barnett’s heroics were set up by a stellar pitching effort by Dan Martony (4-0) in the top of the 11th.
As the game moved into extra innings, neither team mounted a serious threat until South Dakota State (37-20) loaded the bases with none out in the top of the 11th against Sean Johnson. Martony relieved and got a short fly ball to center, and struck out Joel Blake and Andrew Phelan --- SDSU’s 3-and-4 hole hitters -- to end the threat.
In the bottom of the inning Brett Sowers led off with a double to deep right field, missing a game-winning home run by about a foot. Bennett Pickar sacrificed Sowers to third and Barnett, after battling Jackrabbits closer Trevor Vermeulen to a 1-2 count, bounced single past the pitcher’s mound and thru a drawn-in infield to easily score Sowers with the winning run.
Early on the game had the makings of a classic.
South Dakota State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second despite four singles. Eric Cain had an RBI single, but starting pitcher Mark Guest struck out Beau Hanowski to end the inning with the bases loaded.
ORU (36-20) tied the game at 1-1 on an RBI single by Pickar in the bottom of the second, but missed a chance for more when Barnett struck out looking and Joey Winiecki filed out to end the inning with two runners on.
South Dakota State picked up an unearned run in the third. Shortstop Cam Schiller misplayed Jesse Sawyer’s grounder with two outs, allowing Phelan to score from second for a 2-1 lead.
But ORU came right back in the bottom of the inning. Nick Baligod led off with a double and Chris Elder doubled home Baligod to knot the score at 2-2. After Elder advanced to third on a wild pitch, he scored on a sacrifice fly by Schiller as ORU gained a 3-2 lead.
Baligod gave the Golden Eagles a 4-2 advantage with a long solo home run in the seventh inning.
But the cushion was short-lived. Closer Matt Rush relieved Joe Spring, who limited the Jacks to one unearned run and three hits in five innings, to start the eighth and gave up two straight singles. After retiring Sawyer on a liner to short, Rush walked the next two batters to force in a run and make it 4-3. SDSU tied the game when catcher Pickar mishandled a pitch for a passed ball, allowing Phelan to score the tying run.
ORU wasted an opportunity to regain the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Schiller drew a one-out walk and moved to third on a single by Jared Schlehuber. Brett Sowers laid down a squeeze bunt, but Schiller was easily retired at home for the second out. Pickar flew out to end the inning.
ORU finished with 11 hits, with Baligod’s 3-for-5 effort leading the way. No other Golden Eagle had more than one hit.
The Golden Eagles find out their NCAA Regional fate when pairings are announced at 11:30 a.m., Monday on ESPN.
Tom Lilja, Western Illinois
Blake Turbak, North Dakota State
Max Casper, North Dakota State
Blake Treinen, South Dakota State
Billy Stitz, South Dakota State
Beau Hanowski, South Dakota State
Andrew Phelan, South Dakota State
Drew Bowen, Oral Roberts
Chris Elder, Oral Roberts
T.J. Bennett, Oral Roberts
Jared Schlehuber, Oral Roberts
Nick Baligod, Oral Roberts
Cam Schiller, Oral Roberts
Alex Gonzalez, Oral Roberts (MVP)