Oral Roberts was forced to go to its bullpen in the second inning. The University of Alabama went to its relievers in the fifth.
Both teams had to cobble together a long streak of relief pitching, but the Golden Eagles minimized the damage to beat Alabama 6-3 on Friday night at Sewell-Thomas Stadium.
“Any time you knock their number one guy out like that, you’d hope there would be some momentum,” head coach Greg Goff said. “But their bullpen did an excellent job. Mixed pitches and kept us off stride. We just couldn’t manage anything with that. I thought once we had him out, we’d go to work on them. Had some guys in scoring position. Tonight, the biggest difference for me was that they got two-out hits and we didn’t.”
ORU’s Bryce Howe exited after just five outs when he was hit by a line drive in the second inning. He didn’t give up a run, but his exit brought on reliever Grant Glaze with minimal time to warm up. Glaze gave up three runs in 4 1/3 innings, but escaped a handful of jams.
Alabama left runners in scoring position in the second, third, fourth and seventh innings. UA took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth but couldn’t expand on it. That left room for Oral Roberts to tie the game at 3-3 in the fifth, then take a 5-3 lead in the seventh.
“Any time you sit right there with a team, you’re eventually going to get beat,” Goff said. “I kept telling guys, ‘You’ve got to keep at it, keep at it, we’ve got to get out front.'”
Alabama couldn’t steady the ship with or without starter Nick Eicholtz. He surrendered three runs in 4 1/3 inning, working up to 86 pitches before taking his leave. Freshman Sonny Potter gave up three hits and allowed two runs while failing to record an out, then Kyle Cameron allowed one more run in the eighth. That was all Oral Roberts needed as Ryan McCullough pitched three scoreless innings. Alabama was without a couple of its top bullpen arms that were used in Wednesday’s 12-5 win over Southern Miss.
“Every mistake that we threw tonight, they’d hit,” Goff said. “That’s what good teams do. That’s what a veteran team does. That’s what I told our players, this is an SEC-type team. And we’ve got to get better.”
Second baseman Cobie Vance tripled drove in two runs on a triple. Left fielder Keith Holcombe went 2-3 with an RBI. Freshman Deacon Medders, an American Christian Academy product, pitched a scoreless ninth for his collegiate debut.
Oral Roberts’ Nick Roark went 4-5 with four RBIs. He drove in the tying run in the fifth inning, the go-ahead run in the seventh and the Eagles’ insurance run in the eighth inning. Shortstop Dylan Snypes was 3-3 with a walk and a double.
“I thought that we got outplayed tonight in all facets of the game. Pitching, defense, base running. Just got outplayed by a better team tonight.”