The victory, ORU’s 31st straight in tournament play, puts the Golden Eagles (33-25) in a winner’s bracket matchup with top-seeded South Dakota State on Friday at 3 p.m.
Smolen (9-3) out-pitched Summit League Pitcher of the Year Boone Whiting (6-2) by allowing just one earned run in his sixth complete game of the year. Smolen scattered five hits and walked only two batters.
Centenary (28-25), however, opened the scoring in the top of the first. Keegan Acker led off with a single and moved to second when leftfielder Chris Elder mishandled the ball. Acker advanced to third on a wild pitch and later scored on groundout by Scott Pasket for a 1-0 Gents lead.
ORU got the run back in the bottom of the inning, but also missed out on an opportunity for a big inning. Joey Winiecki reached on a error and Tyler Saladino walked to start the inning. Nick Baligod doubled off the wall in right, scoring Winiecki and tying the game at 1-1. After Seth Furmanek struck out, Whiting walked Chris Elder to load the bases.
Centenary grabbed a 2-1 lead in the second. Michael Tompkins led off with a double and scored two batters later when Baligod misplayed a Jeff Ericson’s fly ball to right. But the lead didn’t last long.
The Golden Eagles tied the game at 2-2 with a run in the bottom of the fifth. After Saladino was plunked with one out, Baligod blooped a single to leftfield, putting runners on first and second. Furmanek followed with a single through the left side, scoring Saladino with the tying run.
Brett Sowers led off the sixth inning with solo home run just inside the leftfield foul pole, giving ORU a 3-2 lead, and Schlehuber lifted a sacrifice fly in the seventh for a 4-2 advantage.
Smolen took care of the rest, allowing just three baserunners over the final three innings.
Baligod finished with three hits and an RBI for ORU, while Furmanek had a pair of single and an RBI. Whiting allowed three runs in six innings, striking out eight but walking five in suffering the loss.
Centenary faces Oakland at 11 a.m., Friday in an elimination game.