TULSA, Okla. — Southern Utah took a 2-1 loss to Oral Roberts in the opening round of the Summit League Tournament on Thursday.
The contest developed into a defensive battle that saw the Thunderbirds take a 1-0 advantage in the late innings, but then allow the Golden Eagles to plate a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth.
The T-Birds were unable to capitalize on several scoring opportunities in the game, including the first inning when Bo Cuthbertson led off with a double to deep left centerfield but was then left stranded after the ORU defense recorded three straight outs. The Thunderbirds were able to put runners on again in the top of the second as Justin Neuhart and Mitchell Kauweloa recorded back-to-back singles, but the Golden Eagles escaped the inning once again to keep the game scoreless.
The matchup would remain scoreless over the first five innings as the starting pitchers from each team kept their opponents in check. Then in the top of the sixth, Marcus Romero hit an infield single to the shortstop to give Southern Utah a man on first with nobody out. Neuhart was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second and Kauweloa reached on an error to load the bases. In the next at bat Brad Royer lined out to right field, with the ball just getting deep enough for SUU to send Romero from third. ORU right fielder Logan Domenico's throw was on target for a play at the plate but the catcher was unable to hold on to the ball as he applied the tag and Romero slid into home to put Southern Utah up 1-0.
The Thunderbirds held on to a one-run lead until eighth inning when Oral Roberts used a two-run rally to take the lead. Brandon Healy led things off with a single and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. An RBI double hit to deep right field by Jose Trevino would then bring the score to a 1-1 tie. Cam Schiller then added another RBI double to give the Golden Eagles a 2-1 lead.
SUU was able to get the leadoff runner on in the top of the ninth, but a failed bunt attempt and a double-play allowed Oral Roberts to hold on for the win.
Southern Utah southpaw Justin Neubauer (6-4) went 72/3 innings on the mound, giving up just two runs on five hits. ORU starter Drew Bowen (6-2), who was named the Summit League Pitcher of the year earlier in the week, picked up the win after going eight innings without allowing an earned run.
Kauweloa finished the day 3-for-4 at the plate for the Thunderbirds, while Royer recorded the team's lone RBI. Trevino and Schillers back-to-back doubles in the eighth would provide the only two runs for ORU.
The Thunderbirds will face Oakland in an elimination game Friday at 11 a.m. The Grizzlies suffered a 3-2 defeat to North Dakota State in the opening round.
UVU BASEBALL: At Orem, Jake Rickenbach collected four RBIs on a 4-of-5 outing as the Wolverines beat the Fighting Sioux, 15-4 to advance to the Great West tournament final.
UTAH TRACK: At Austin, Texas, junior Amanda Mergaert finished second in her preliminary heat in the 1,500-meter run at the NCAA West Region Preliminary meet to advance to Saturday's semifinal race, where she will compete for a spot in next weekend's NCAA Championship in Des Moines, Iowa.
Mergaert's time of 4:22.20 was the fifth fastest of the 48 preliminary participants.
USU TRACK: At Austin, Texas, AJ Boully was the highest Aggie finisher at the first round of the NCAA Outdoor Championships, crossing the finish line at 53.22 in the 400-meter hurdles to place 38th. Nic Bowens ran 10.59 in the 100 meters to capture 41st, while Devin Wright threw the javelin 161-07 to end the day in 46th-place.
SUU TRACK: At Austin, Texas, in the mens field events, Chris Johnson was unable to record a mark in the mens shot put, faulting on all three attempts. Cody Olsen finished 36th in the field of 48 after throwing a mark of 191 feet five inches in the javelin.
On the track, Preston Myers competed in his first of two events, finishing the mens 100-meters with a time of 10.63. Myers will return tomorrow and compete in the mens 200-meters after finishing 43rd on day one of the NCAA preliminaries.
In the most anticipated race for Southern Utah fans during the day, Cameron Levins ran to a first-place finish in the mens 10K.
UVU TRACK: At Austin, Texas, junior Shelise Walker finished third in her heat with the time of 4 minutes, 30.16 seconds in the 1,500 meters at the NCAA Preliminary to advance to Saturday's semifinals.
Nicholas Taylor narrowly missed qualifying in the 100 meters, while McKell Camp-Nielson (50.87 meters) and Tim Rowberry (1:52.27) failed to advance in the women's javelin and men's 800 meters, respectively.