SUGAR LAND, Texas – Timely hitting and solid relief pitching carried third-seeded Oral Roberts University to a 4-2 victory over sixth-seeded Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday morning at the 2013 Southland Conference Tournament. The opening day victory books ORU (24-30) a spot in the winner’s bracket of the eight-team tournament.
SLC Pitcher of the Year Alex Gonzalez (9-5) pitched out of several jams to earn the victory. Gonzalez went six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out just one batter. Nathan Garza pitched the final two innings for ORU and earned his fifth save of the year.
Chase Greening (4-6) took the loss for the Lumberjacks after surrendering four runs in seven innings of work.
Stephen F. Austin (28-28) falls to the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination event and will try to survive on Thursday morning at 9 am CT.
Logan Domenico slugged ORU to victory, going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Kevin Cho was 2-for-4 and scored twice.
The Lumberjacks drew first blood without the benefit of a hit in the 3rd inning. Rene Moreda drew a walk to start the frame and came around to score on Gonzalez’s second wild pitch of the inning, giving the underdogs a 1-0 lead.
ORU wasted no time providing a response, striking back in the bottom of the inning. Cho legged out a bunt single to spark the Golden Eagle offense, and he touched home on a Domenico hit to even the score at 1-1.
The Golden Eagles surged to the lead one inning later. Joey Migliaccio and Austen Colt each supplied an RBI double, putting ORU on top by a 3-1 count.
SFA pulled one back in the 6th, as Max Lamantia launched a one-out home run over the left field fence to cut ORU’s lead in half. The frame could have been much worse, as the Jacks loaded the bases with two outs, but Gonzalez got Moreda to fly out and kept the lead at 3-2.
Domenico provided a crucial insurance run in the 7th inning. The sophomore lofted an opposite field double that found the left center gap, chasing Cho home for the second time and boosting the lead to 4-2.
ORU lived dangerously in the game’s final five innings, as SFA brought the tying run to the plate in each frame. But the Golden Eagles held firm each time, including in the 9th, when Garza retired SLC Player of the Year Hunter Dozier to end the game.
ORU’s bullpen was a huge factor in the win. Guillermo Trujillo tossed a scoreless 7th inning to keep ORU in front, while Garza held SFA scoreless in the game’s final two innings.
Dozier, Joseph Olson and Freddy Villalobos each had two hits to lead Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
The Golden Eagles will return to action on Thursday afternoon, when they face the winner of the first round game between Central Arkansas and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. First pitch for Thursday’s game is scheduled for 4 pm CT, and live video coverage is available on the Southland Digital Network.