ORU Drops SFA In Tourney Opener
May 22, 2013
SUGAR LAND, Texas - Hunter Dozier became the all-time leader at Stephen F. Austin in hits, but Lumberjacks could not take advantage of its scoring chances on Wednesday morning, leaving 10 runners on base in a 4-2 loss to Oral Roberts in the opening round of the Southland Conference Tournament at Constellation Field.
The sixth-seeded `Jacks (28-28) managed seven hits and struck out just once against third-seeded ORU (24-30) starter Alex Gonzalez, the recently-minted Southland Conference pitcher of the year who also entered the game ranking second in the nation in strikeouts. Still, he managed to keep the Golden Eagles in the game despite only managing to keep SFA off base in one of his 6.0 innings on the day, his shortest outing of the year.
"That's the name of the game in this tournament," SFA head coach Johnny Cardenas said. "You can't get too high, you can't get too low. You have to come out here every day and play the game in front of you. Against an All-American pitcher like Gonzalez, that's as good of an effort you can ask your hitters to do. They did a good job of getting him out of the game early and giving us an opportunity."
Dozier finished 2-for-5, upping his career total to 225 hits in his three seasons and breaking a tie with former SFA center fielder Zach Gardner for the school's all-time hits lead.
ORU and SFA had nine hits apiece, but the Golden Eagles managed to bunch theirs together with leadoff man Kevin Cho and three-hole hitter Logan Domenico combining for five hits and a pair of runs scored. Dozier, Joseph Olson and Freddy Villalobos each had a pair of hits for SFA, but the `Jacks ended the day just 3-for-17 with runners on base and 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Chase Greening pitched well, but took the loss to fall to 4-6 on the year, allowing four runs on nine hits in 7.0 innings, striking out four and walking just a batter. Gonzalez picked up the win to move to 9-5 for ORU, while righty Nathan Garza tossed two scoreless frames to earn his fifth save.
"I thought Chase pitched a hell of a game and he gave us an opportunity to get the offense going," Cardenas said. "But we were unable to muster anything up and get hits when we need to."
SFA left three runners stranded in the first two frames before going up 1-0 in the top of the third when a leadoff walk to Rene' Moreda turned into a run after a sacrifice bunt and a pair of wild pitches. But the edge did not last long when Logan Domenico dumped a 2-0 pitch into shallow left-center field to score Cho, who had reached on a one-out bunt single, and tie the game at 1-1.
Gonzalez then put together his only clean inning of the day in the top of the fourth and the Golden Eagle offense rewarded him with a pair of runs in the bottom half on an RBI doubles from Joey Miglicaccio and Austen Colt.
The `Jacks left another runner on base in the fifth and Greening worked around a pair of hits to open the bottom half of the inning to keep the score at 3-1 before Max Lamantia trimmed the lead to 3-2 with a solo home run in the top of the sixth off of Gonzalez. In the same frame, SFA mounted its best threat to re-take the lead, loading the bases with two outs on walks to Olson and Hood and an infield hit by Villalobos, but Gonzlaez got his last hitter of the day, Moreda, to fly out to left field to end the threat.
SFA put runners on base in each of the final three innings against the ORU bullpen, but squandered a one-out double from Dozier in the seventh, a one-out single from Olson in the eighth and a one-out walk from Zach Marberry in the ninth. The `Jacks had what they wanted in their final trip to the plate with Dozier up as the tying run, but flew out to the warning track in deep right-center field for the game's final out.
The `Jacks will look to stay alive in the SLC Tournament on Thursday at 9:00 a.m. in an elimination game against the loser of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Central Arkansas.