TULSA, Okla. - Oral Roberts relievers combined for six shutout innings, pulling the Golden Eagles to within a game of South Dakota State in the Summit League standings with a 4-2 victory over the Jackrabbits in the opening game of a four-game series Friday night at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
ORU improved to 27-18 overall and 15-6 in league play. The Jackrabbits dropped to 31-14 overall and 16-5 in The Summit League. The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday afternoon staring at 2 p.m.
The Golden Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as Nick Baligod led off with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a two-out single by Cam Schiller.
SDSU scored both of its runs in the second inning. Andrew Phelan led off with a double against ORU starter Drew Bowen and moved to third on a base hit by Eric Cain. A walk to Zach Briggs loaded the bases before Daniel Marra was hit by a pitch to force in Phelan with the tying run. Beau Hanowski followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Cain.
ORU took the lead in the home half of the fourth against Jackrabbit starter Stephen Bougher. Jared Schlehuber doubled in Schiller with the first run of the frame and scored the go-ahead run on a double down the third-base line by Bennett Pickar. The Golden Eagles added an unearned run in the fifth for the final margin.
Winning pitcher Joe Spring pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief before giving way to Lars Liguori in the eighth. Spring struck out six, walked one and scattered five hits as he improved to 4-1 on the season.
Matt Rush hurled a perfect ninth inning to earn his league-leading ninth save of the season.
Bougher had his record even at 4-4 as he walked four, struck out one and gave up six hits in five innings. Austin Busse pitched three perfect innings out of the bullpen, recording four strikeouts.
SDSU held an 8-6 advantage in hits, but stranded 12 runners in the game. Phelan was 2-for-5 to lead the Jackrabbits, while Schiller was 2-for-4 for ORU.
NOTES: Oral Roberts leads the all-time series, 21-6 ... the Jackrabbits are 0-7 against ORU at J.L. Johnson Stadium since moving to The Summit League at the start of the 2008 season ... Joel Blake and Hanowski each extended their hitting streaks to 12 games ... SDSU is scheduled to start Blake Treinen (5-2) and Alex Oberle (4-4) in Saturday's doubleheader
ORAL ROBERTS (Okla.) 4, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 2
SDSU 020 000 000 2-8-1
ORU 100 210 00X 4-6-0
SDSU: Stephen Bougher, Austin Busse (7) and Zach Briggs, Nick Andrews. ORU: Drew Bowen, Joe Spring (4), Lars Liguori (8), Matt Rush (9) and Bennett Pickar.
W-Spring (4-1). L-Bougher (4-4). Save-Rush (9).