FARGO - The home baseball opener had the look of most of North Dakota State’s road games this season. Falling behind to Oral Roberts with a starting lineup of six freshmen or sophomores is not the way to live life in the Summit League.
The Bison and Golden Eagles came into Newman Outdoor Field on Friday night separated by just one game in the conference standings. It’s now two after ORU held off the Bison in the late innings to take an 8-7 victory.
NDSU scored two in the eighth and got a rally going in the ninth when Jayse McLean crushed a one-out double. He advanced to third when Charley Hesse reached on an error.
Reliever Trevor McCutchin struck out Sean Noel, but Jake Malec kept the Bison alive with a run-scoring single to make it a one-run game.
McCutchin struck out leadoff hitter Bennett Hostetler to end the game.
NDSU (9-18 overall, 7-9 Summit) can make quick amends on Saturday starting with a 1 p.m. doubleheader. But the Bison will have to reverse the basics of baseball: have better production on offense and make fewer mistakes on defense.
NDSU spent a lot of time in the field in a game that was nearly four hours in length. Four Bison pitchers combined for 197 total pitches in nine innings. ORU wasn’t any better and combined the teams threw 395 pitches.
The Bison fell behind in the top of the second. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases. One run came home on a dropped fly ball to left field and another scored on a sacrifice fly and it was 2-0.
NDSU loaded the bases in the bottom of the third with one out. But ORU pitcher Josh McMinn struck out cleanup hitter Hunter Koep and Jack Simonsen to end the inning.
Trailing 3-0, the Bison loaded the bags again one inning later with one out. They got one run out of it on Hostetler’s sacrifice fly to left. Peter Brookshaw’s two-run single tied it at 3-3.
The Golden Eagles came back with two runs in the fifth. NDSU ran into a heap of trouble in the sixth loading the bases with no outs. One run scored on a hit by pitch and another on a sacrifice fly.
It added up to a 7-3 lead.
Considering the Bison came in with a .239 team batting average, it made for a moderate-sized hole. NDSU almost dug out of it.
McLean’s RBI single in the seventh cut it to 7-4. It didn’t last. ORU restored its four-run lead scoring on a passed ball in the eighth.
NDSU didn’t fold. Brookshaw’s fourth hit of the game, an RBI single, and Brock Anderson’s single to right cut the lead to 8-6.
ORU 020 122 010 -- 8 13 0
NDSU 000 300 121 -- 7 14 2
McMinn, Archambo (5), McCutchin (8) and Keizor. Smith, O’Connor (5), Ferderer (8), Pilla (9) and Tallman. W--Archambo. L--Smith (1-4).