It took a while, but the Golden Eagles were finally able to get the bats alive in their 10-4 come from behind victory over Little Rock Friday afternoon.
The day didn’t start out well for ORU opening day starter Bryce Howe, who got hit hard in his first outing of the season. The Trojans got good swings off Howe all afternoon as the Claremore, Oklahoma native didn’t have his best stuff in his first outing of 2017.
After giving up a run in the top of the second inning, Little Rock first baseman Nik Gifford launched a 3-run homer to right center field to give the Trojans a 4-0 third inning lead.
“None of us felt pressure. We weren’t worried about anything. We knew we could come back,” said ORU third baseman Cal Hernandez. “There was a ton of game left at that point.”
The Golden Eagles offense finally got off the schneid and started chipping away scoring a run in the third and fourth inning before the offense exploded with a two-out rally in the fifth. The team got RBI-single from both Nick Roark and Noah Cummings to give ORU a 5-4 lead.
First baseman Brent Williams would then send a three-run shot over the left field wall capping the inning to give the Golden Eagles a commanding 8-4 lead.
“The at-bat before when Noah was hitting, he got four or five straight curveballs. Even Whatley’s at-bat before that he threw a lot of breaking balls,” said Williams. “He was either gonna throw me a get me over curveball for a strike or fastball. I was sitting fastball and they threw me a fastball on the inner part of the plate.”
The Golden Eagles took advantage of their opportunities leaving just six runners on-base, while the Trojans were not as opportunistic leaving 12 runners on base. The Golden Eagles also got contributions from the 8 and 9 spot in the lineup. Hernandez and shortstop Dylan Snypes combined to go 6 for 10 with four runs scored and two RBI.
“It’s a dream come true for me. I know it is for Snypes, as well,” said Hernandez. Playing JUCO ball and then coming to play Div. I. We’re just trying to see good pitches, not do too much, and get on base for the top of the order.”
Howe finished the day going four innings allowing four runs (all earned), nine hits with four walks and five strikeouts. Junior Justin McGregor earned the win after replacing Howe in the fifth. McGregor three shutout innings striking out four while walking two.
“It’s not the kind of start Bryce wanted, but we were really good out of the bullpen. Five innings, three hits, no runs and we punched out nine those last five innings. I thought the way we responded to a 4-0 deficit was good,” said ORU Baseball Head Coach Ryan Folmar. “Every staff has to have a guy like [Justin] who can fill a lot of different roles. He was big for us today.”
Folamr also announced that despite going three iniings today, McGregor would make the stat on Tuesday against Missouri State.
The next game for the ORU will be tomorrow when the Golden Eagles take on Little Rock in Game 2 of the three-game set. Sophomore Josh McMinn takes the mound for ORU in his first start of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 2 P.M.