Golden Eagles Win Finale in Run-Rule Fashion, 15-5
BROOKINGS, S.D. – Tyler Saladino went 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI, and made of pair of spectacular plays in the final inning as Oral Roberts picked up a 15-5 run-rule victory over South Dakota State, Sunday at Erv Huether Field.
The win prevented ORU (27-21 overall, 14-6 Summit) from being swept in the four-game series and gave the Golden Eagles sole possession of second place in the Summit League standings.
Saladino paced an 18-hit effort by ORU’s offense with a single in the first, a run-scoring single in the third and a two-run home run in the seventh. The homer put ORU ahead 15-5 and set up the Golden Eagles for a possible run-rule victory. Saladino has at least one hit in all 20 of this season’s Summit League.
In the bottom of the seventh, Saladino streaked into shallow left field and tracked down Jesse Sawyer’s flare for the first out. With a runner on second and two outs Saladino ended the inning and the game with a leaping stab behind second base of Zach Rhodes’ line drive.
The Golden Eagles found themselves down early. South Dakota State (30-16, 13-7) scored three times in the first inning and added a run in the fourth for a 4-0 lead.
But ORU exploded for eight runs in the top of the eighth inning as the first eight batters reached base against starting pitcher Shane Kraemer (3-3). Saladino and Seth Furmanek laced back-to-back RBI singles, with Joey Winiecki also scoring from first when leftfielder Daniel Telford misplayed Saladino’s hit. P.J. Sequeira followed two batters later with a two-run double, giving ORU a 5-4 lead.
Colby Price blooped a double to center, moving Sequeira to third and Robert Barbosa followed with a double down the leftfield line, scoring both runners for a 7-4 lead. Winiecki, batting for the second time in the inning, lined a single to center scoring Barbosa for an 8-4 advantage.
Bryce Smolen (6-3) replaced Dallas Beeler to start the fourth and breezed through the Jacks lineup. Smolen retired SDSU in order in the fourth and worked around a lead-off single in the fifth, inducing an inning-ending double play ball from Eric Cain.
While Smoeln was holding SDSU’s high-powered offense in check, the Golden Eagles kept scoring. Nick Baligod and Price hit solo homers in the fourth for a 10-4 lead.
SDSU scratched across an unearned run in the sixth, and Smolen avoided further damage when he struck out Joel Blake with runners at second and third.
ORU put the game away in the top of the seventh. Chris Elder ripped a two-run double for a 12-4 lead and Winiecki knocked in his second run of the game with a single as ORU went up 13-4. Saladino blasted the first pitch he saw over the left-field wall for a 15-5 lead.
Saladino was one of four players with three hits, along with Winiecki, Furmanek and Price. Elder, Winiecki, Sequeira and Barbosa each knocked in two.
Smolen tossed four innings of relief, allowing only an unearned run. He scattered four hits and struck out a batter.
The Golden Eagles return to action when they open a four-game Summit League series at Centenary, 6 p.m., Friday, in Shreveport, La.