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SDSU Falls In Summit League Championship

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Spencer Barnett’s single up the middle in the bottom of the 11th inning drove in the game-winning run and sent Oral Roberts to its 14th consecutive Summit League tournament title with a 5-4 victory over South Dakota State Sunday afternoon at Sioux Falls Stadium.

The Golden Eagles improved to 36-20 overall and will advance to the NCAA Tournament. SDSU ended its season with a 37-20 record.

The Jackrabbits drew first blood with a run in the second inning. Andrew Phelan recorded his fifth consecutive hit of the tournament to lead off the inning, moved to second on a base hit by Aaron Machbitz and scored on Eric Cain’s infield single off the glove of ORU shortstop Cam Schiller.

ORU tied the game in the home half of the second on an RBI single down the left-field line by Bennett Pickar, but the Jackrabbits regained the lead in the top of the third. After reaching on a fielder’s choice, Phelan gained second on a wild pitch and again used aggressive base running  to score on an error.
The Golden Eagles took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the third against Jackrabbit starter Kolton Emery. Nick Baligod and Chris Elder hit back-to-back doubles to open the frame, with Elder scoring the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Schiller. Baligod’s solo home run, his second of the tournament, with two outs in the seventh pushed the ORU lead to 4-2.

SDSU tied the game with a rally in the eighth against the ORU bullpen. Joel Blake and Phelan started the rally with back-to-back singles against Golden Eagle closer Matt Rush and Zach Rhodes walked one out later to load the bases. Cain then drew a bases-loaded walk to force in a run and Phelan scored for the third time in the game on a passed ball to knot the game at 4-all.

ORU appeared on the verge of taking the lead in the eighth as Schiller walked against Erik DeJong and Jared Schlehuber greeted reliever Trever Vermeulen with a single to right field that moved Schiller to third with one out. SDSU dodged a bullet, however, as Vermeulen fielded a squeeze bunt by Brett Sowers and flipped to Nick Andrews in time to apply the tag to Schiller. Vermeulen then struck out Bennett Pickar to end the threat.

The Jackrabbits missed out on a golden opportunity to take the lead and possibly force a seventh and decisive tournament game. Andrews and Stitz each singled against Sean Johnson and Beau Hanowski loaded the bases with nobody out on a bunt single down the third-base line. Dan Martony entered for ORU and got Andrew Melton to line out to shallow center field before striking out both Blake and Phelan to end the threat.

Sowers started the game-winning rally in the bottom of the 11th with a double to the right-field corner. Pickar dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Sowers to third, setting up Barnett, who fouled off a couple of two-strike pitches before lining a single through the drawn-in infield.
SDSU held a 13-11 advantage in hits, led by Billy Stitz, who was 3-for-4. Baligod was 3-for-5 and scored twice for ORU.

Emery allowed seven hits, one walk and struck out two in a no-decision start for the Jackrabbits. ORU used six different pitchers in the game, with starter Mark Guest throwing only two innings. Joe Spring allowed one run over five innings. Martony improved to 4-0 on the season with a scoreless inning in relief.

Courtesy: Jason Hove, SDSU Sports Information

Follow KDLT Weekend Sports Anchor Kolbe Nelson on Twitter at @KolbeNelson
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