Incredible Comeback Falls Short as ORU Season Ends in Regional Final
Down 8-0 after a disastrous top of the first inning the Golden Eagles (39-22) slowly clawed back, eventually putting the tying runs in scoring position in the bottom of the eighth. But after getting a series of big hits all weekend, ORU came up empty down the stretch.
Three errors and five hits helped DBU (42-18) build an 8-0 lead in the top of the first inning. But DBU starting pitcher Jordan Staples gave back half of the advantage in the bottom of the inning when he allowed two walks and a single to the first three batters he faced before Brandon King blasted a grand slam over the right field wall to get ORU within 8-4.
The Patriots scored three more runs in the top of the third to take an 11-4 lead. But Joe Spring came out of the bullpen for ORU and held DBU scoreless over the next five innings, giving ORU a fighting chance.
In the fifth Chris Elder belted his second home run of the regional, a two-run shot which made it an 11-6 game.
ORU put together a two-run rally in the sixth. Joey Winiecki singled with two outs and sped home on Nick Baligod’s double to left-center field to get ORU within 11-7. Elder followed by knocking in Baligod from second with a single to cut the lead to 11-8.
T.J. Bennett nearly hit a two-run homer in the seventh, but his fly ball to right was caught for a sacrifice fly in front of the wall, easily scoring Cam Schiller from third to make it 11-9.
In the eighth, ORU appeared to be on the verge of tying the game. Bennett Pickar and Winiecki started the inning with back-to-back singles and Baligod sacrificed the runners up a base with a bunt. With Elder and King looming, DBU went to relief ace Chris Haney, who ended the threat by striking out both hitters.
The Golden Eagles went down in order, sending Dallas Baptist to a Super Regional meeting next weekend with Cal.
ORU finished with 14 hits, two more than the Patriots. Baligod led way by going 3-for-3 with three runs and an RBI. Winiecki, Elkder, Schiller and Jared Schlehuber each had two hits. Elder knocked in three runs.
DBU reliever Stuart Prudenz (4-1) picked up the win, allowing three runs on six hits in 5.2 innings after coming on for Staples in the first. Haney picked up his 15th save.
Alex Gonzalez (8-7) suffered the loss for ORU.
Five Golden Eagles were named to the Fort Worth Regional All-Tournament team: catcher Bennett Pickar, first baseman Jared Schlehuber, outfielder Chris Elder, pitcher Mark Guest, designated hitter Brandon King.