SUGAR LAND, Texas – Oral Roberts got a strong outing from starting pitcher Drew Bowen and backed him up on offense in getting past Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 6-1 Thursday to move within one win of playing for its first Southland Conference Tournament championship in its first season of its new league.
Bowen kept Islander batters at bay until giving up his first hit in the seventh inning. A&M-Corpus Christi turned a lead-off single by Cody Stephens into its first run of the game thanks to a single up the middle by Brad Porras. Porras had nearly broken up the no-hit bid two innings earlier, sending a laser to the top of the wall in left field only to see it caught by Logan Domenico.
By the time the Islanders scored, the Golden Eagles already had their opposition down 4-0. ORU scored three runs in the third inning getting RBI from Brandon Healy, Logan Domenico and Jose Trevino. They scratched another run across the plate in the sixth getting a lead-off triple by Nate Goro. He scored on a misplayed ground to short off the bat of Graham McIntyre.
After the Islanders’ seventh-inning run, ORU answered with two more. The Golden Eagles loaded up the bases for Austen Colt, who singled through the left side for the first run. Joey Miglaccio’s sac fly scored the other.
Eight starters got hits for ORU, which totaled 10 in the game. Domenico and Colt each finished with two hits and one RBI. Healy, Trevino and Migliaccio also drove in runs. A&M-Corpus Christi finished with four hits from four different players.
Bowen improved to 4-3 with the win. He gave up only one run on three hits with eight strikeouts and three walks in seven innings pitched. Kurt Giller kept the Islanders off the scoreboard through the final two innings. ORU handed Islanders’ starter Trevor Belicek his second loss of the season (9-2). He allowed four runs on eight hits before hitting the dugout with two out in the sixth.
Oral Roberts finds itself in the driver’s seat of its side of the bracket and can secure its spot in the championship game with a win Friday at 4 p.m. Even if the winner of Friday’s 9 a.m. elimination game between A&M-Corpus Christi and Central Arkansas can beat the Golden Eagles Friday evening, it would have to beat ORU again to deny them an opportunity to play for title.
The Golden Eagles have reached the NCAA tournament each of the last 15 seasons after winning the Summit League championship.
Oral Roberts Head Coach Ryan Folmar
On Drew Bowen’s performance
“He has been that guy for us for four years. I mean he has pitched in a lot of big games and a lot of big time atmospheres. Whenever you need a good start that is the guy you’d like to hand the ball too. He was outstanding and he was sharp. I think at the end there he probably gassed out a little bit. He was awful good tonight. I think the biggest thing for Bo (Drew Bowen) is that he competes every time we ask him. He rises to the occasion. The bigger the game the better he is.”
On team coming around offensively
“With all of the injuries we’ve sustained the last couple of weeks, guys have to step up and you have to become a team and you can’t rely on one or two guys. I think that showed here today. We spread it out and we had a lot of guys contribute and that’s what it’s going to take to win this tournament.”
Oral Roberts pitcher Drew Bowen
On mindset and performance
“It was a hot day and I knew I was going to get loose fast and was going to be good from the get go. Towards the end of the game I was feeling a little gassed. I was throwing strikes and beating the zone up and let my defense work behind me.”
On pitching in big games
“I’ve been here quite a while and I’ve been used to being put into these situations. I just want to give my teammates the best shot because I know they have my back.”
On thoughts about possible no-hitter
“It crossed my mind a couple of times, but I didn’t think about it too much. I gave up the first hit and put it behind me and move on to the next guy.”
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Head Coach Scott Malone
On mindset for facing Central Arkansas again tomorrow
“I just got done from the circle down there with my kids and told them I still feel good about it. I feel that we are as talented as anyone in the tournament and anybody on our side. We just have to play a better game … I have to tip my hat to the Bowen kid. I thought he probably pitched one of his better games.”
On realizing that Drew Bowen was ‘in the zone’
“I think when some of my hitters were returning to the dugout. We understand that we’re an offensive team and we’re going to score to win and that’s the way we’re built. That’s the way we’ve played all year, but when you get a guy’s ‘A’ game that it’s going to be a hard one. Good pitching beats good hitting, but I think when our guys were coming back in the third and fourth talking about balls out away from them that they thought they couldn’t reach and that they needed to make an adjustment. He did a great job on really getting on that outside half of the zone today.”
On fighting back from losers bracket
“It’s the second year in a row for us to win the first one and kind of be on the cusp…If you win, you’re two wins away from a regional, but if you lose you know you have to play the doubleheader. But, again you stay positive and my job is to manage these guys and put them in the right position. It’s a gift because we’re playing 18 big innings tomorrow with a ton of opportunities for guys to hit and drive in runs. All the guys that have been waiting to come out of the pen…here it comes boys. Hopefully it’ll be a fun day for us tomorrow.”