BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) — In a game featuring a combined eight home runs, Oral Roberts’ Caleb Denny delivered the decisive blow with a two-run shot in the top of the seventh inning that lifted the Golden Eagles to a 12-11 victory over South Dakota State Thursday afternoon in the opening game of a Summit League baseball series at Erv Huether Field.
With the win, ORU improved to 34-14 overall and 16-6 in league play. The Jackrabbits, who had their four-game winning streak snapped, dropped to 21-20 overall and 12-8 in The Summit League.
SDSU suffered the setback despite scoring in each of the first six innings. The Jackrabbits scored the first run of the game two pitches into the bottom of the first inning as Henry George hit the first pitch for a double and Luke Ira followed with a run-scoring single.
The Golden Eagles responded with a five-run top of the second against SDSU starter Nic McCay that consisted of a combination of the long ball and small ball in sending 10 batters to the plate. Holden Breeze connected on a two-run homer to put ORU in the lead, while Alec Jones and Mac McCroskey added RBI singles later in the frame. Jones, who was 4-for-5, scored the final run of the inning on a wild pitch.
The teams continued to trade runs throughout until the bullpens took over late. Solo home runs by Nic Nelson in the second inning and Ryan McDonald and Derek Hackman in the third brought the Jackrabbits to within 6-4, but a solo home run by Jackson Loftin and RBI infield single by Joshua Cox pushed the ORU lead back to four runs at 8-4.
Ira delivered his second RBI of the game on the last half of back-to-back doubles with George and Hackman plated two more with a single in the fourth to trim the deficit to 8-7.
George knotted the game at 9-all with a two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole in the fifth inning and Nelson put the Jackrabbits back in front at 11-10 with a two-run double off the fence in right-center field.
The Jackrabbit lead would be short-lived, however, as McCroskey opened the seventh inning with a base hit off reliever Ryan Bourassa and Denny followed with his 10th home run of the season to center field.
Golden Eagle closer Cade Denton made the lead stand up as he recorded strikeouts on five of the six outs he registered over the final two innings. As a staff, ORU pitchers tallied 19 strikeouts, including five by Kaleb McCullough.
ORU held a 15-13 advantage in hits with Cox, who homered in the sixth, also tallying four hits. George and Hackman paced the SDSU offense with three hits each.
Ten of the Jackrabbits’ hits went for extra bases as SDSU notched a season-high six doubles.
The two squads are slated to play the middle game of their three-game series at 1 p.m. Friday.
- ORU has won all four meetings this season and leads the all-time series, 67-19
- The Jackrabbits hit four home runs for the third consecutive game to tie a season high
- SDSU has hit at least one home run in 23 of its last 24 games
- George homered for the third consecutive game and has eight extra-base hits (four doubles, one triple, three home runs) over the last four games
- McDonald tied Ira for the SDSU team lead in homers with 10
- The Jackrabbits have registered 10 or more hits in each of their last seven games and 10 of 11
- Hackman has driven in nine runs over the last two games to move into second place on the team with 35 RBIs