FARGO-For a while, it was looking more like rec league slowpitch softball than Division I college baseball on the Newman Outdoor Field scoreboard.
North Dakota State came back from a deficit twice in the early innings, but the Bison couldn't do it a third time. Oral Roberts got the big inning and the Golden Eagles went on to take an 11-8 victory in Summit League baseball Friday night.
The second and third games of the series are Saturday and Sunday at Newman, with the Bison hoping to find a better way to hold down the ORU bats. The loss broke up a stretch of four wins in five games for NDSU, which dropped to 9-11 in the Summit and 18-20 overall.
The Eagles maintained their command of the league lead at 17-5 and 28-15 overall.
And trying to outscore them is no way to live life in the conference.
"They're a really good hitting team," said Bison shortstop Bennett Hostetler, "so we had to battle each inning offensively and in the field. For the most part we did that. We had a good day offensively, but we lacked a little bit pitching and defense. We competed for nine innings so that was good."
The Bison committed three errors, which is something that wasn't happening until of late. It's something head coach Tod Brown said needs to be corrected. Soon.
"It all starts on the mound and we were a top 10, top 15 defensive team in the country three weeks ago," said Brown, "and we have just been making error after error. And some of those mistakes didn't even show up on the scoreboard as errors. We're going to have a hard time winning consistently if our starting pitching doesn't get better like it was a the beginning of the year and our defense has to get better or we're in for a long season."
There was a lot going on offensively in the first few innings. A pair of passed balls led to a 2-0 Oral Roberts lead in the top of the first inning, an advantage that was gained with just the aid of one hit.
Hostetler came back with a home run to right field and the Bison served early notice their bats came to play. Carter Thompson's bases-loaded single tied it at 2-2 and the table was set for a long night of baseball after a bases-loaded walk and wild pitch gave the Bison a 4-2 lead.
The first inning alone took 34 minutes. The Eagles came back to take a 5-4 lead in the top of the third on a bad-hop triple. Not to be outdone, the Bison retook the advantage with a two-run third inning.
"The hits are starting to fall," Hostetler said.
NDSU just couldn't hold the fort. ORU pieced together six hits in the top of the fourth inning that produced five more runs and a 10-6 lead.
"That fourth inning we just could not get them out," Brown said. "It was a very offensive day today, especially the first half of the game."
NDSU kept it close, getting an RBI single by Jayse McLean and run-scoring triple from Logan Busch in the sixth.
Ultimately, it's a lot to ask for 12 runs to beat a league-leading team. Bison pitchers walked six Eagles in addition to ORU piling up 16 hits.
Hostetler, Thompson and Mason Pierzchalski had two hits each for NDSU.
ORU\u0009\u0009203 500 001-11 16 2
NDSU\u0009\u0009402 002 000-8 9 3
McMinn, Larkins (6), Townsend (8), Stout (9) and Gibson. Johnson, Choles (4), Drew (8) and Emanuel. W--McMinn (3-5). L--Johnson (4-6). HR--NDSU, Hostetler (1).