It was a rough day at the office for the Golden Eagles as the bullpen struggled in a 9-5 loss to Missouri State, Tuesday afternoon.
Missouri State started fast and drew first blood in the game after center fielder Hunter Steinmetz’s two-run double gave the Bears an early 3-0 lead.
ORU fell behind for the fourth straight game trailing Missouri State early, but wouldn’t stay down long as the offense got going in the fourth and fifth inning. Right fielder Noah Cummings got ORU on the board in the fourth with an opposite-field solo shot to cut the lead to 3-1.
The Golden Eagles would send 10 men to the plate in the fifth inning, scoring four runs including RBI-singles from Matt Whatley and Cummings to give ORU a 5-3 lead.
While the ORU bullpen was strong in the first three games of the season, they struggled on Tuesday as they had to cover 18 outs as starter Justin McGregor would only go three innings, which was the coaches plan going into his start Tuesday.
After ORU reliever Evan Eubanks loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth inning, Trevor McCutchin came on and surrendered a three-run double to Missouri State pinch-hitter Ryan Skalnik (brother of ORU Women’s Basketball guard Rachel Skalnik) to give the Bears a 6-5 lead. Missouri State would never trail again.
“I thought Justin was sharp for three innings and the way these mid-week games work out, you need him on the weekend too out of our bullpen. We weren’t real sharp out of the bullpen today. Other than one pitch, I thought Trevor was good ,” said ORU Baseball Head Coach Ryan Folmar. “Early in the year, you got to give guys opportunities. The game came down to two pitches. An 0-2, two-run double and a 2-2, three-run double.”
The Golden Eagle relievers surrendered more runs Tuesday afternoon than they had the entire weekend against Little Rock allowing nine runs on eleven hits. They walked five batters and struck out six.
Cummings continued his scorching hot start for ORU going 3 for 4 on the day with a double and his second homer of the year. He finished a triple shy of the cycle. The Alpine, California native is now hitting .500 (8-16) on the young season with a team-high eight RBI.
McGregor was the best of ORU’s pitchers from Tuesday. The right hander pitched three scoreless innings allowing two hits, walking one batter and striking out two.
“It’s was nice to get the first game jitters out on Friday and today just settled in and pitched how I know,” said McGregor.
The Golden Eagles will now head to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in a three-game weekend set. It will be the first and longest road trip of the season for ORU as the team will face Alabama for three games before facing Kansas in a mid-week matchup next Tuesday.
ORU will then head to Minneapolis on March 3-5 to take part in the Dairy Queen Invitational at U.S. Bank Stadium (Home of the Minnesota Vikings). The Golden Eagles will take on Iowa, Hawaii and host Minnesota in the tournament before finishing the trip with a mid-week game at Little Rock on March 7.
“When you take your first trip of the year, it’s good to get away sometimes. It’s been great to be at home for the first four games, but that first road trip, you learn a lot about your team,” said Folmar. “It’s going to be a tough trip and we got some good ones coming up against some really good teams starting in Tuscaloosa this weekend, but we’re excited for it.”
The Golden Eagles are now 6-6 in stolen base attempts on the season. Left fielder Michael Hungate leads the team with two stolen bases.