It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but in the end, the Oral Roberts baseball team grinded it out and came through when it mattered most.
With the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning Tuesday night, ORU reliever Spencer Henson struck out Oklahoma’s Conor McKenna. Then, in a seven-pitch battle, he induced Justin Mitchell into a fly out to secure the Golden Eagles a nail-biting 3-2 triumph over OU at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
“The first couple of batters didn’t go the way it was supposed to, kind of left some balls up in the zone and plunked the second guy,” said Henson, who allowed a leadoff double to OU’s Diego Muniz and then hit Brylie Ware before allowing a one-out single to Brady Lindsly to load the bases.
“The main thing is just kind of coming back to your routines, your mental talk, and try not to get too into the moment. At that point, you just have to approach it one batter at a time, one pitch at a time, and just try to execute as best you can.”
Henson also had two doubles and a walk at the plate before coming in to pitch the ninth and earn his fourth save of the season for ORU (17-17). Trevor McCutchin (1-0), who allowed just one hit and one walk in 2⅓ innings of relief from the fifth through seventh innings, got the win for the Golden Eagles, who are 3-1 since enduring a four-game losing streak.
It was a game of missed opportunities for OU, which left the bases loaded in three innings and stranded 14 runners overall.
The Sooners (25-13) have lost three in a row and are just 3-8 in their past 11.
In the eighth inning, the Sooners nearly tied it, but Brandon Zaragoza was thrown out at home by ORU shortstop Anthony Martinez in a close call that required a video review to confirm.
But in the end, ORU did just enough to escape with the win.
“I thought both teams had a lot of opportunities throughout the game, and credit to some pitching — guys made pitches when they needed to, but I’m proud of the way our guys hung in there and pulled one out,” Golden Eagles coach Ryan Folmar said. “We had a lot of guys on, we had the leadoff runner on in the first six innings in a row. I thought we swung the bat well. We hit into some tough outs, I think five or six line-drive outs.”
ORU scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings to take a 3-0 lead, and, as Folmar indicated, got leadoff hits in each of the first six, but the Golden Eagles also stranded eight runners.
Hunter Wilson scored the first two runs on RBI singles by Jake McMurray and Andrew Pace, respectively, and Martinez’s RBI hit brought home Hunter Swift in the fourth.
After the Sooners left the bases loaded in both the third and fourth innings, they got the bases full again in the fifth with none out and finally broke through. McKenna grounded into a double play, but Ware scored from third. On the next batter, Hardman scored on a passed ball to make it 3-2.
ORU 3, OU 2
OU 000 020 000 — 2 9 0
ORU 101 100 00x — 3 10 1
Abram, Smith (5), Godman (5) and Mitchell; Coffey, Odom (4), Rainwater (4), McCutchin (5), Wolf (8), Henson (9) and Gibson. W: McCutchin (1-0), L: Abram (6-1)