Lincoln, Neb. – After losing a five-run lead and surviving a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth, Oral Roberts used Brendan Duffy’s two-out RBI single in the top of the 10th to squeak past Eastern Illinois, 8-7, on Saturday and advance at the NCAA Lincoln Regional at Hawks Field.

 

The game-winning single from Duffy gave him his first RBI at the Lincoln Regional. Duffy’s clutch hit was one of several for Oral Roberts, which scored six of its eight runs with two outs, including a go-ahead run in the top of the ninth. ORU scored five runs over the first three innings to build a 6-1 lead only to see Eastern Illinois rally.

 

The Panthers used a four-run fifth and one run in the seventh to tie the game at six. Oral Roberts then regained the lead with a run in the top of the ninth, but Eastern Illinois threatened to take the victory in the bottom of the ninth. The Panthers loaded the bases with only one out, and tied the score with a two-out wild pitch. Richie Derbak then ripped a sharply-hit ground ball down the first base line, where ORU first baseman David Genao made a sensational diving play and beat Derbak to the base to preserve the tie and force extra innings.

 

After winning it in the 10th, Oral Roberts (47-13) advances to Sunday’s 1 p.m. elimination game. The third-seeded Golden Eagles will face the loser of Saturday night’s battle between No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 UC Irvine with a berth in the regional championship game at stake. Eastern Illinois ends it season with a 27-30 record.

 

Early in the game, extra innings didn’t appear necessary as Oral Roberts scored five runs over the first three innings. The Golden Eagles plated two runs in the top of the first on two-out RBI singles from Brian Van Kirk and Genao.

 

ORU used another two-out rally to take a 4-0 lead in the second. After retiring the first two batters, a hit batter a walk and a balk put two runners in scoring position for Ben Petralli, who promptly delivered a two-run single.

 

ORU pushed its lead to 5-0 in the third on the strength of Ryan Groth’s RBI double.

 

Eastern Illinois began its comeback bid by recording its first hit and its first run in the bottom of the third. Ryan Lindquist got things started with a leadoff double and scored one batter later on Curt Resko’s RBI single up the middle.

 

Oral Roberts got the run back in the fourth on Genao’s second RBI single of the game. Leading 6-1, the Golden Eagles missed a chance for more runs on an unusual play. With runners on second and third and two outs, Groth ripped a line drive that hit the second base umpire squarely and both the ball and the umpire fell to the ground.

 

Although both runners advanced on the play and a run crossed the plate, the umpires conferred and correctly ruled Groth’s hit an immediate dead ball single and the runners had to return to second and third. That left the bases loaded with two outs and Michael Notaro then lined out to left to end the inning.

 

The Panthers pulled back to within four when Alex Gee belted his second home run of the regional, a solo shot with one out in the bottom of the fifth. After another near-home run was caught at the wall, Brett Nommensen pounded a two-out, two-run homer to right center to cut the gap to 6-4. Jordan Kreke then delivered an RBI single to make it a one-run game but Tristan Facer ran too far past second on the play and Oral Roberts threw behind him to end the threat without any further damage.

 

Eastern Illinois continued its rally in the seventh. A one-out single and a double put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position for Facer, who atoned for his earlier base running mistake by advancing both runners with a deep sacrifice fly to center that tied the score at 6-6.

 

In the top of the ninth, a walk and a wild pitch gave Oral Roberts a runner at second with only one out. Another wild pitch moved the runner to third with two outs before Petralli ripped a 3-2 pitch into left field to score the go-ahead run.

 

In the bottom of the ninth, Nommensen led off with a single through the right side before Oral Roberts misplayed a sacrifice bunt and gave Eastern Illinois runners at first and second with no outs. With the bases loaded and one out, Carlos Luna recorded a strikeout before unleashing a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score from third. Richie Derbank then ripped a grounder that appeared headed down the right field line before Genao made a terrific diving stop and won the race to the bag to retire the side.

 

After Duffy’s 10th-inning single gave Oral Roberts the lead, T.J. Kelly came on and retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning, registering two strikeouts while earning his 10th save of the season. Kelly’s work made a winner of Carlos Luna (13-0), who allowed just two runs (one earned) in 4.1 innings of relief work. Derbak (1-4) took the loss, allowing one run in 1.1 innings.