Bison baseball season ends with 7-0 loss to Oral Roberts
TULSA, Okla.—It ended in disappointing fashion, but there's no denying that North Dakota State enjoyed an outstanding baseball season.
After an 8-2 victory over South Dakota State in the semifinals Friday, the Bison came back Saturday afternoon and lost 7-0 to Oral Roberts in the Summit League tournament championship at J.L. Johnson Stadium in Tulsa.
Oral Roberts (42-14), the top team in the Summit League's regular season, won its ninth straight game and third consecutive league title.
"It's going to take awhile (to get over the disappointment) ... it hurts," said NDSU head coach Tod Brown, whose team last won the Summit League in 2014. "We want to go to a (NCAA) regional, our senior class went to a regional when they were freshmen, but when you step back and look at it, we're a northern program that doesn't play a lot of home games, and to win 31 games, and to be in the championship game for four out of the last six years, is a credit to our administrators, our players, our coaches. It's hard to do and we keep doing it and we're going to be back here next year."
NDSU (31-25), which had entered the Summit League tournament winning eight of its 10 previous games, managed just five hits against the Summit League pitcher of the year Miguel Ausua (11-2). He tossed a complete-game shutout and was named the tournament's most valuable player.
"He's really, really good," Brown said of Ausua, who didn't allow a Bison reach third base until Logan Busch in the eighth inning. "We can't get the ball out of the infield against him. Obviously, it's because he locates so well, he's got good movement, good off-speed pitches and he's a heck of a competitor. We just flat-out got beat."
NDSU senior right fielder Ben Petersen got one of the hits against Ausua, a second-inning single, but had to come out of the game in the seventh inning. He jammed his hand while sliding into third base and although he stayed in the game for five more innings, the hand gradually swelled up to the point he couldn't grip the bat.
"They just beat us today," said Petersen, who was named to the all-tournament team after hitting .571 (8-for-14), with four runs scored, eight RBI, two home runs, a .647 on-base percentage and a 1.143 slugging percentage. "I think our program's making the right steps, we're getting better every year. We had a great year, and I know in the future, we're going to be back here and take care of business sometime."
NDSU trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning when ORU struck for five runs against relief pitcher Parker Harm to seize control.
The home plate umpire, Jason Harstick, got injured when a pitch clipped his hand and there was a 15-minute delay while an alternate umpire got ready, but Brown didn't believe that had any impact on what happened next.
First, Sam Grellner drove in two runs with a one-out line drive single into center field, and then, two batters later, Cal Hernandez delivered a two-RBI double down the third-base line. Brent Williams added an RBI single later in the inning off of Kevin Folman, who replaced Harm.
"I didn't think it had any effect on the game," Brown said of the delay. "It is what it is."
With NDSU's top three starters unavailable, Blake Stockert (3-2) got the start, his fourth of the season and first since he surrendered six runs on nine hits in an 8-2 loss at Northern Colorado on March 5.
He allowed two runs—one unearned—on just two hits in four innings, but struggled with his control, walking four batters, hitting two and tossing one wild pitch.