Oral Roberts University took a giant step towards postseason qualification on Thursday night as they knocked off Lamar, 6-5, in 12 innings at J.L. Johnson Stadium. The win vaults ORU (30-24, 15-13 Southland Conference) one game ahead of the Cardinals (29-23, 14-14 SLC) in the race for the SLC's eighth and final Tournament spot.
The Golden Eagles can now clinch a SLC Tournament berth with one victory in the season's final two games.
ORU scored the winning run in the bottom of the 12th, when Matt Brandy was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, scoring Emmanuel Forcier.
Jordan Romano (3-4) pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless relief and struck out four to earn the win. Lamar's Travis Moore (0-1) walked the only batter he faced, Forcier in the 12th inning, and suffered the loss when the ORU leadoff man came around to score.
Logan Domenico, Brandon Healy and Audie Afenir all tallied two hits for ORU, while Forcier scored two runs. Brandon Provost was 3-for-6 with 2 RBI to lead Lamar.
Neither starting pitcher factored into the decision. ORU's Gavin Glanz went seven innings and allowed three runs (one earned) on three hits, while Lamar's Chase Angelle allowed three runs in 5.2 innings.
Lamar took an early lead with a run in the top of the 1st. June Vidrine walked to start the game and came home to score three batters later when Provost singled off of Jose Trevino's glove at short.
But the Golden Eagles came back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. Domenico doubled with one out, and one batter later Trevino atoned for his defensive miscue with a run-scoring two-bagger of his own to tie the game at 1-all.
ORU took the lead in the 2nd inning. Healy walked with two outs and scored one batter later on Austen Colt's triple off the left field wall. With two frames in the books, the Golden Eagles were up, 2-1.
Lamar gifted ORU a run in the 4th inning. Afenir doubled but looked like he would be stranded when Healy hit a soft fly ball to right field with two gone. But Lamar right fielder Jacob Middleton dropped the ball, allowing Afenir to score and making the tally 3-1 ORU.
Glanz got into trouble in the 6th inning when an error, a hit batter and a fielder's choice loaded the bases with no outs. He induced a ground ball off the bat of Jake Sutton, which thanks to another ORU error plated two runs and tied the game at 3-all.
The Cardinals tried to give ORU another hand in the bottom of the 6th, when Forcier popped a pitch sky high on the infield. Five Lamar players surrounded the ball but none of them made an attempt to catch it, allowing Forcier to reach on a leadoff double. Five batters later, Afenir came to the plate with the bases loaded and two out, but he grounded out to end the frame and keep the game knotted up.
Lamar retook the lead in the top of the 8th. A leadoff walk came home to score on a Provost single, and the Cardinals took a 4-3 advantage.
But ORU stormed back in the bottom of the inning. Anthony Sequeira singled to start the inning and later scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. But the big blast came from Domenico, whose two-bagger gave the Golden Eagles a massive 5-4 lead.
ORU thought they had won the game in the top of the 9th inning, when Vidrine bounced a ball in the 2nd baseman's direction with two outs. But the Lamar leadoff man beat the throw to first, and Wayne Stanley scored from 2nd base when the ORU defense was caught napping. The play tied the game at 5-all.
Oral Roberts loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 9th after a leadoff walk and two sacrifice bunt attempts that were mishandled by Lamar. But two strikeouts and a groundout ended a fruitless inning for the Golden Eagles and sent the game to extra innings.
ORU also had runners on the corners in the 10th inning, and Lamar put two guys on base in the 11th. Neither team could score.
Three walks loaded the bases for ORU with one out in the bottom of the 12th inning. Brandy stepped in and was plunked in the leg by J.T. Autrey, bringing the winning run home.
The Golden Eagles get their first chance to punch a postseason ticket on Friday night in game two of the series. First pitch at Johnson Stadium is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.