ORU's Nick Baligod (41) scored one of four runs in the ninth inning after doubling to get on.Scores: Oral Roberts 8, Wichita State 7
Records: ORU 26-18, WSU 30-23
Bottom line: WSU led for eight innings and, besides from a few walks, did almost everything right. Then it collapsed in the ninth when closer Cale Elam gave up his first runs since March 30. ORU scored four times to take the lead. Coach Gene Stephenson, in a rare magnanimous post-game interview, took the heat off Elam and said he would go to his closer 100 times out of 100. That’s smart. The Shockers need Elam the rest of the way and there’s no reason to bury him after a rough night. WSU fell to 5-9 in one-run games and 28-2 when leading after eight innings. The Shockers turned an uplifting victory into another crushing defeat. That’s the way things have gone this season.
Mid-week marvels: The Golden Eagles pitched Chris O’Brien carefully, walking him three times. DH Preston Springer responded with three hits to drive in five runs. 2B Walker Davidson went 3 for 4. SS Tyler Grimes showed off the range and arm that will make him a draft choice in June. WSU turned three double plays to help its pitchers out of jams. LH Aaron LaBrie and LH Albert Minnis combined to pitch five scoreless innings.
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Mid-week woes: WSU pitchers didn’t strike out a batter. Stephenson said that’s the first time he can remember that happening in 34 seasons. That helps explain the struggles of starter Zach Beringer and Elam. Neither could finish off batters with an out pitch and walks hurt both of the freshmen. 3B Tyler Coughenour went 0 for 4 to end a nine-game hitting streak and struck out three times. ORU’s top four hitters – all left-handed hitters – went 9 for 11 against right-handers Beringer and Elam. They went 2 for 8 against lefties LaBrie and Minnis.
What’s next: It’s back to MVC business for WSU against Indiana State this weekend at Eck Stadium. The Shockers need to sweep if they want to win the MVC title. With Creighton playing at Evansville and Bradley at Missouri State, it’s time for scoreboard watching.