TULSA, Okla. – Trevor McCutchin recorded three hits and pitched Oral Roberts out of a big jam in the eighth inning to lead the top-seeded Golden Eagles to a 5-3 victory over South Dakota State in a winners' bracket game Thursday night at the Summit League Baseball Championship.
SDSU dropped to 26-23 overall as their nine-game winning streak was snapped. The Jackrabbits will face North Dakota State – an 11-4 victor over Western Illinois on Thursday – in an elimination game at 6 p.m. today at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
Oral Roberts, 41-14 overall, scored twice in the top of the first inning against Jackrabbit starter Ethan Kenkel. With one out, Cal Hernandez singled down the third-base line and Matt Whatley walked before Summit League Player of the Year Noah Cummings singled in Hernandez with the first run of the game. Brent Williams followed with an infield single that plated Whatley.
The Jackrabbits countered with a two-run bottom of the second. Matt Johnson drew a leadoff walk and scored ahead of Newt Johnson on a two-run shot over the left-field fence. It was Newt Johnson's third home run of the season and the Jackrabbits' third home run in the tournament.
ORU regained the lead against the Jackrabbit bullpen, scoring runs on groundouts in both the fifth and sixth innings. Cummings plated the go-ahead run in the fifth on a chopper to third base.
Golden Eagle starter Josh McMinn came out for the start of the SDSU eighth inning, but was lifted after Skyler Wenninger was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. McCutchin then entered and proceeded to hit Nick Smith and Tony Kjolsing reached on a throwing error on the back end of a sacrifice bunt to load the bases.
The Golden Eagle defense diffused the rally by turning its fourth double play of the game on a grounder off the bat of Luke Ringhofer, although the Jackrabbits scored to cut the deficit to 4-3. SDSU had the tying run stranded at third base as McCutchin struck out Matt Johnson for the third out.
ORU took advantage of two walks and a wild pitch issued by Jackrabbit closer Chris Halbur to add an insurance run in the ninth. It was only the third run allowed by Halbur this season.
Kyler Stout pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to send ORU to the championship game at noon Saturday.
McCutchin collected three of the Golden Eagles' seven hits, while SDSU's four hits were scattered among four different players.
McMinn struck out seven and walked four over seven-plus innings to earn his ninth victory of the season.
For SDSU, Kenkel walked three and struck out two while allowing a pair of runs on four hits. Derek Feige took the loss, while Brett Mogen hurled 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Notes: The Jackrabbits are 14-14 in eight Summit League Baseball Championship appearances, including 0-9 against Oral Roberts. ... Matt Johnson played in his 200th career game, becoming the fifth player in program history to reach that milestone. ... Feige has factored into the decision in both of the Jackrabbits' 2017 tournament games. ... SDSU pitchers combined to walk eight batters in the game. ... Newt Johnson moved into a tie with Matt Johnson for the team lead in runs batted in with 40.
ORAL ROBERTS 5, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 3
ORU 200 011 001 – 5 7 1
SDSU 020 000 010 – 3 4 0
Josh McMinn, Trevor McCutchin (8), Kyler Stout (9) and Matt Whatley; Ethan Kenkel, Derek Feige (5), Brett Mogen (7), Chris Halbur (9) and Luke Ringhofer. W – McMinn (9-3). L – Feige (5-3). Sv – Stout (11).
HR: SDSU, Newt Johnson (3).