Home runs from Sam Grellner and Noah Cummings powered the top-seeded Oral Roberts baseball team to a 5-2 win over No. 4 Western Illinois in its opening game of the 2017 Summit League Championship Wednesday night at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
Grellner led the scoring by hitting a solo home run into right center in the third and Cummings pulled a two-run blast to left center in the eighth adding insurance runs as the Golden Eagles closed out their seventh-straight victory. It also was the 40th win of the year for ORU as it reached that mark for the 21st time in program history.
Starting pitcher Justin McGregor (9-0) remained perfect on the season throwing seven innings allowing two runs on six hits before the bullpen took over. Grant Glaze and Kyler Stout shut down the Leathernecks over the final two innings to finish off the opening game win in the double-elimination tournament.
Quote of the Game
"We got a lot of production out of Noah and Sam tonight. When you have some depth to your lineup, you will have moments where guys at any spot in the lineup can carry you. I also thought Grant and Kyler were sharp at the end and really good. Justin showed some toughness and kept competing and that speaks a lot to his resiliency." – Head Coach Ryan Folmar
Trailing by two, WIU turned the momentum by tying the game, 2-2, in the sixth inning and retired ORU on four pitches in the bottom of the sixth. The Golden Eagles responded in the seventh as Grellner laced a one-out triple off the wall and Nick Roark brought home the eventual winning run sending a sacrifice fly into deep center field.
Inside the Box Score
- Three Golden Eagles posted multi-hit efforts as Cummings, Dylan Snypes and Grellner finished the night with two hits apiece. Snypes and Grellner combined to hit for the cycle as Snypes posted a single and a double, while Grellner tallied a home run and a triple.
- Cummings, the 2017 Summit League Player of the Year, bounced back from a disappointing final week of the regular season by going 2-for-4 with three RBI. He pushed his league-leading total to 67, as the junior now ranks ninth in the nation in RBI, adding a run-scoring single in the third.
- Whatley reached base three times as the Leathernecks pitched around the junior in a pair of two-out walks. The Claremore, Oklahoma, product sent a lead-off single to center in the eighth before Cummings hit his 14th home run of the season.
- McGregor, one of ORU's 10 All-Summit League First Team selections, threw seven innings Wednesday holding WIU to two runs, while striking out six.
- Glaze surrendered only a two-out walk in a scoreless eighth inning before Stout picked up his conference-best 10th save of the year in a perfect final frame.
The Golden Eagles face the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State in the winner's bracket Thursday night at 6 p.m. Live coverage for the matchup will be available featuring free video, audio and stats on the ORU Sports Network.