TCU Season Ends with 8-4 Loss to Oral Roberts in NCAA Fort Worth Regional
Golden Eagles' four-run sixth inning proves too much for Frogs to overcome
June 5, 2011
FORT WORTH -- Oral Roberts leftfielder Chris Elder broke open a tight game Sunday with a sixth-inning grand slam, and the fourth-seeded Golden Eagles kept their season alive with an 8-4 victory over top seed TCU in Game 5 of the NCAA Fort Worth Regional at Lupton Stadium.
ORU (38-21) advanced to the Sunday night's regional championship matchup against third-seeded Dallas Baptist, which as the undefeated team must be beaten twice. If the Golden Eagles earn the win Sunday, the two teams will play again on Monday at 7 p.m.
TCU (43-19) was eliminated from regional play with Sunday's loss to ORU. The Frogs suffered their first setback of the weekend Saturday at the hands of DBU, 3-2.
ORU was clinging to a 4-3 lead when it took to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning. Elder provided his squad with a big cushion, driving a 1-2 pitch from TCU reliever Trent Appleby over the right field fence. Second baseman Spencer Barnett, center fielder Joey Winiecki and right fielder Nick Baligod each scored on Elder's blast, which marked only the squad's second grand slam of the season.
TCU had cut the ORU lead to only one run merely a half inning earlier on a double by designated hitter Zac Jordan that drove in shortstop Taylor Featherston, who led off the inning with a walk.
ORU's Joe Spring (5-1) earned the victory in relief of starter Bryce Smolen, who allowed two runs in 2 1/3 innings. Spring threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, but he was only piece of a solid bullpen performance by ORU. Spring and fellow middle relievers Sean Johnson, Dan Martony and Lars Liguori combined to throw six innings, allowing only four hits and one run. Closer Matt Rush entered the game with one out in the ninth and shut the door after allowing an RBI double to TCU third baseman Jantzen Witte.
TCU reliever Eric Miller (7-7) took the loss in relief of starter Kyle Winkler, who exited the game after recording two outs in the first inning due to injury
Elder's hit proved to be the big offensive blow for ORU, which finished with 12 hits. All but one of the squad's starters had at least one hit, including designated hitter Brandon King, who went 3-for-3 while adding a walk. Baligod (2-for-4) and catcher Bennett Pickar (2-for-3) also recorded multiple-hit days.
Witte led TCU's offensive attack by going 3-for-5 at the plate, while Jordan went 2-for-4.
The Frogs moved on top early in the contest with a pair of runs in the third inning. Witte put the squad on the scoreboard by singling in second baseman Jerome Pena, who trotted home from second after a misplay in left field by Elder. Center fielder Kyle Von Tungelin later scored from third on a one-out sacrifice fly by first baseman Joe Weik.
The lead would not last long, as ORU responded with four runs in the bottom of the third. Rickar and Baligod led off the inning with singles sandwiched around a groundout by Winiecki, then Elder loaded the bases by reaching first on a fielding error by Erik Miller. King and shortstop Cam Schiller both recorded RBI singles to bring the Golden Eagles back to even before first baseman Jared Schlehuber gave them the lead for good with a sac fly to right. Bennett then piled on the fourth run for ORU with another RBI single.