SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A strong Oral Roberts squad led by pitcher Bryce Howe held the Mastodons at bay in the Championship game of the 2015 Summit League Baseball Tournament, as the Mastodons fell 6-0 to the Golden Eagles.
The loss drops IPFW to 28-26 on the season, a new program record for victories, and the first winning season by the Mastodons since 1999.
Jonathan Valenzuela-Reece, Ryan Wells, Greg Kaiser, and Evan VanSumeren were all named to the Summit League All-Tournament Team.
VanSumeren led IPFW with two hits, going 2-for-4 on the day, while the team’s remaining two hits came from Kendall Whitman and Kaiser.
IPFW had its chances early, as VanSumeren and Whitman had back-to-back one-out singles, and advanced to third with two outs; however, VanSumeren was thrown out at the plate attempting to score on a wild pitch by ORU starter Bryce Howe.
An inning later Kaiser opened the inning with a double down the left field line, but was left stranded after a line-out, strikeout, and groundout ended the inning. VanSumeren hit a two-out single in the third, but was erased on a fielder’s choice, closing the scoring attempt for the third straight inning.
VanSumeren’s hit in the third would be the team’s final hit of the game, as Howe gave up just a solitary walk of his last 16 batters he faced in the game.
IPFW starter Trevor Storie opened strong, keeping the Golden Eagles off of the scoreboard for the first three innings of the game, before ORU first baseman Audie Afenir hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, staking the visitors on the scoreboard to a 1-0 lead –and the eventual game-winning run.
In the fifth inning Oral Roberts opened the frame with an infield bunt single from Chase Stafford and advanced to second when the throw from the pitcher was off target. A sacrifice bunt moved Stafford to third, before scoring on a double from Derrian James. A wild pitch moved James to third, before scoring on a Matt Brandy single, putting the visitors ahead 3-0.
After VanSumeren’s single in the third inning, the Mastodon offense was held in check by Oral Roberts starter Bryce Howe, who pitched a career-high seven innings, striking out seven batters and did not allow a run in his efforts.
Oral Roberts threatened in the seventh inning, using a single, a walk, and an intentional walk to load the bases; however, relief pitcher Zach Dowden got right fielder Noah Cummings to pop up to Kaiser at shortstop and end the threat with just the three-run deficit.
The next nine combined batters went down in order between the two teams between the bottom of the seventh, top of the eighth, and bottom of eighth innings.
In the top of the ninth inning Oral Roberts added to its advantage with a two-run home run from second baseman Brandy, putting the Golden Eagles ahead 5-0 before ORU added a run on a throwing error later in the inning, staking the team to a 6-0 advantage with one turn at bat for IPFW remaining in the contest.
The Mastodons were unable to get anyone on base in the bottom of the ninth, securing the championship for the Golden Eagles.