Golden Eagles Rally To Beat OSU

FAYETTEVILLE -- Oral Roberts continues to find ways to beat Oklahoma State. Saturday night, it was Chad Rothford.Rothford, a switch-hitter, drove in all five runs to lift the Golden Eagles to a 5-4 win over the Cowboys at Baum Stadium and put ORU into tonight's finals of the Fayetteville Regional.

After going 1 for 6 against Arkansas in Friday's regional opener, Rothford had a talk with ORU hitting coach Rob Folmar.

"I wanted to start my stride a little sooner to get my hands started," Rothford said. "I think it worked tonight."

There was little doubt about that.

Rothford was 3 for 4, with a home run and two doubles. His biggest hit came in the eighth when, with the Golden Eagles down 4-3, he delivered a two-run double down the right-field line off Oklahoma State reliever Oliver Odle to put ORU ahead for the first time.

"I can't say that it really surprises me," ORU coach Rob Walton said of Rothford's night. "I told people before, when I recruited Chad out of California that he was the best player in that position in junior college.

"For a two-month span he carried us."

And Rothford carried the Golden Eagles again Saturday, helping his team beat No. 20 Oklahoma State for the third time this season.

The Cowboys (40-19) will play Arkansas at 2 p.m. today in an elimination game. Oral Roberts (40-14) will play the winner of that game at 7 p.m. If the Golden Eagles lose that game, the same two teams would play at 7 p.m. Monday night for the regional championship.

Eric Crichton (4-0) retired the side in order in the eighth to pick up the win. Sean Jarrett, who got the win over Arkansas on Friday, pitched the ninth for his seventh save.

Rothford typically doesn't show much power from the right side. Against Oklahoma State, though, it was Rothford's home run off OSU starter Brae Wright (8-4) that got Oral Roberts going in the fifth, tying the score 2-2.

"We watched the game last night and as big as that kid is, if he runs into one, he's going to leave the yard," said Oklahoma State coach Frank Anderson. "He hasn't hit too many right-handed but he ran into that one."

Rothford's home run, his 13th of the season, came just one batter after Wright gave up a single to Tim Torres for the first ORU hit.

The Cowboys immediately answered, retaking the lead on Adam Carr's RBI single in the sixth. The run was set up by Keanon Simon's triple to left-center. Simon got some help from the lights, as ORU left fielder Kelly Minissale lost the ball in the lights, allowing it to drop.

But Rothford again delivered in the bottom of the inning, with a two-out double to left-center to score Andy Bouchie.

All of Rothford's hits came with two strikes.

"I can't really say that I shorten up," he said. "I'm a guess hitter and when I guess the right pitches, I hit them."

Wright's control was solid until the eighth, when he walked Jake Kahaulelio and Torres around a sacrifice bunt. Those were his only two walks of the night, but they proved costly, as Odle came on and hung a breaking ball that Rothford crushed into the corner.

"He seemed to be able to come up with the big hit when he needed to get it done," Wright said. "He did a pretty good job. He beat me pretty much all day. I was doing my game plan, doing what I thought was best to set him up and get him out. He just did a great job of hitting."

Ty Wright and Adam Carr each had three hits for the top-seeded Cowboys, who must win two today to force a final game.

"You've got to get this game behind you," Anderson said. "You can't throw stuff or go crazy. It's over with at this point."

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