The Oral Roberts baseball team clinched at least a share of The Summit League regular season title Friday afternoon in a chilly Brookings, S.D. after defeating South Dakota State, 10-8, at Erv. Huether Field.
Behind a career performance on the mound by sophomore Bryce Howe (5-2), the Golden Eagles were able to rally from a 3-1 deficit to take a commanding 10-4 lead before the Jackrabbits (19-29, 12-13) struck for four runs in the final two innings of play to keep things interesting.
Howe finished the day allowing just one earned run and striking out nine batters to tie his career high in the category. The right-hander went six innings and faced 27 batters on his way to his fifth win of the season.
The Jackrabbits took advantage of sloppy play to start the game, scoring three runs in the home half of the first after drawing two walks and a pair of Golden Eagle errors. To reclaim the lead, 3-1, after Brent Williams brought home one of his four RBI of the day in the opening frame.
Oral Roberts (30-16, 19-6) settled in and took control of the game thanks in part to a five-run second inning where the team batted around in the order, recording only three base hits, but reached base via three-hit-by-pitches from SDSU starter Andrew Clemen who lost his control.Nick Rotola, Noah Cummings, Williams, and Rolando Martinez each picked up RBI's in the inning.
Williams would continue hit hot day at the plate in the fourth when he doubled home Nick Roark from second on a ball to center field. Trent Shelton, a junior, continued his hot streak with an RBI double in the fifth to push the Golden Eagle lead to 8-3 before coming around and eventually scoring on a wild pitch. ORU would push its lead to 10-4 in the sixth inning on a Williams sacrifice fly, putting the Golden Eagles to the 10-run mark for the 12th time this season.
South Dakota State would make a rally starting in the eighth when the Jacks connected on back-to-back home runs to cut the lead to 10-6. They would eventually add a run on a bases loaded walk to make it a three-run contest, but ORU closer Brady Womacks would induce a groundout to end the frame.
The home squad looked to have the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the ninth but a base-running blunder cost SDSU an out. The Jacks would score one run in the ninth, but that would be all as Womacks recorded his league leading 10th save of the year.
The Golden Eagles improve to 3-1 on the season against South Dakota State and 28-12 all-time in the series.
ORU has clinched at least a share of The Summit League regular season title with UNO falling to WIU. A 5-game lead with 5 left to play.
The win marks the 30th win of the season and the third-straight year that the Golden Eagles have won 30 games.
Five Golden Eagles finished with multiple hits, led by Brent Williams who went 3-for-3 with a walk and four RBI. Nick Roark finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored while Nick Rotola went 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBI.
The Golden Eagles outhit SDSU on the afternoon, 14-9. The Jacks left nine runners on base while ORU stranded seven.
SDSU's Andrew Clem was tagged with the loss, falling to 3-8 on the season.
Newt Johnson led the Jacks at the plate, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and run scored.
Originally scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch on Saturday, the game has been pushed back an hour due to impending weather to allow for better field conditions. The Golden Eagles will look to take the series with right-hander Nick Wood (4-2, 2.11 ERA) making his 11th start of the season.