TULSA, Okla.— In a much anticipated start to The Summit League tournament, No. 3-seeded Centenary faced No. 2 Oral Roberts, but wasn't able to hang on to its early lead, falling 4-2 on Thursday evening.
The Gents had another solid performance from right-hander Boone Whiting, but could only manage to muster up five hits on the night. With the loss, Centenary fell to 28-25 on the season and will face No. 4 Oakland on Friday at 11:00 am.
Whiting (6-2) (6.0,5,3,2,5,8) pitched 6.0 complete innings, allowing two earned runs on five scattered hits, while fanning eight and walking five, but left when Centenary was down 3-2, suffering just his second loss of the season.
Junior Keegan Acker had two of Centenary's five hits and scored a run, while junior Scott Pasket was 1x4 with an RBI. Senior Michael Tompkins (1x4, R) and freshman Ryan Bell (1x4) each had a hit, while senior Jeff Ericson drove in a run on a sacrifice fly.
It didn't take long for Centenary to jump on board with its first run of the game when Acker single found a hole near the left field line. The speedster rounded first hard and took second on a fielding error by Oral Roberts.
The Golden Eagles came out with a first inning threat as lead off hitter Joey Winiecki reached on a Gent error. He later came around to score on an RBI-double off the right field wall by Nick Baligod.
Whiting showed his dominance and composure as he worked out of a bases loaded jam, fanning the side, including the final two hitters.
Tompkins would contribute to the early offense, belting a double to right center to open up the second frame. After one out, Ericson would drive a line shot over the right fielder's head that was misplayed to plate Tompkins for a 2-1 lead.
Scoring began to slow down as Whiting and ORU's Bryce Smolen settled in to shut down their opponents' offense through the third and fourth frames.
With one out in the fifth, Golden Eagle Tyler Saladino reached on a hit-by-pitch. Back-to-back singles would score The Summit League Player of the Year, Saladino, tying the game at 2-2 before Whiting was able to again, work out of a bases load jam, getting the final hitter to surrender on strikes.
However, Oral Roberts would take its first lead of the game with solo shot to left field by Brett Sowers in the latter half of the sixth. Despite having a runner reach base in the each of the last three innings, Centenary wasn't able to push a run across.
Robinson entered in the seventh, striking out two, but allowed a run on two singles and a throwing error to give the Golden Eagles a 4-2 advantage. The southpaw shut Oral Roberts down in the eighth, but a late rally gave the home team the win.
Robinson (2.0,2,1,0,1,3) struck out three in 2.0 innings of work, allowing an unearned run on two hits.
Golden Eagles' Smolen (9.0,5,2,1,3,11) was impressive, holding Centenary to just five scattered hits and one earned run with 11 strikeouts.
Baligod was 3x4 with a run scored and an RBI to lead Oral Roberts offensively.
Centenary and Oakland will meet on Friday at 11:00 am. The winner will move on to play the loser of No. 2 Oral Roberts and No. 1 South Dakota State at 7:00 pm.