The ORU baseball team had to bounce back in a wild ninth inning, but managed to find a way to defeat UALR 4-3 and win the series three games to one Sunday afternoon.
ORU pitcher Josh McMinn pitched into trouble in the top of the ninth after pitching well for three innings. The Trojans singled off McMinn to cut the ORU lead to 1. The Golden Eagles brought in closer Brady Womacks to try to save the game, but Womacks gave up an RBI-single scoring the tying and go-ahead run giving UALR a 4-3 lead.
The second run was taken away because of coach’s interference as the UALR third base coach ran into the runner as he rounded third base. The game would remain tied 3-3.
“You gotta keep your composure and I think we did that late,” said ORU Head Baseball Coach Ryan Folmar. “We hung in there and gave ourselves a chance.”
ORU center fielder Nick Rotola led off the bottom of the ninth with a double. Catcher Matt Whatley received his second intentional walk of the day after a Nick Roark sacrifice bunt. First baseman Brent Williams sent a hot smash right to the UALR first baseman who tagged first, but made a wide throw to plate as Rotola crossed the plate to win the game for the Golden Eagles.
“When things got rough for us, it was us shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Rotola. “Once we got down we had to take a deep breath and let the game come to us.”
Rotola led the way for the Golden Eagles offensively. Rotola went 2 for 3 with a double and two runs scored. Left fielder Michael Hungate also had a solid day going one for one at the plate with a double and two walks.
ORU starter Taylor Varnell pitched well Sunday afternoon, but earned a no-decision. The left-hander pitched five strong innings allowing just one run on seven hits. He struck out six batters and walked just two.
“You need weekends like this. You need to be in tight games with critical moments,” said Folmar. “Guys have to feel that experience. Hopefully we learn from them.”
ORU now begin a tough road trip where they will take on SEC powerhouses Auburn and Mississippi St. over spring break. The next game for the Golden Eagles will be Tuesday, March 8 when they take on Big 12 rival Texas Tech. First pitch will be at 2 p.m. at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas.