BROTHERS HOMER LIFTS #ORUBASE PAST TCU, 6-5
2023 NCAA College World Series
Score: Oral Roberts 6 – TCU 5
Records: ORU (52-12), TCU (42-23)
Location: Omaha, Neb. (Charles Schwab Field)
Win: Cade Denton (3-1) | Loss: Luke Savage (5-4)
OMAHA, Neb. – Blaze Brothers hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth as the Oral Roberts baseball team rallied to defeat TCU, 6-5, Friday afternoon in the opening game of the 2023 NCAA College World Series from Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska.
The victory marked the Golden Eagles’ second in program history at the College World Series and their 24th in the last 25 games. ORU also set a new program record (D1-era) for wins in a season with 52.
Trailing 5-2 heading into the top of the ninth, Mac McCroskey got things going with an infield leadoff single. The redshirt senior later came around to score on an RBI single from Drew Stahl, trimming the deficit to 5-3. With two on and one out, Brothers belted a three-run shot over the left field bullpen to put the Golden Eagles back in front for good, 6-5.
The long ball marked the 12th of the season for the senior.
In the bottom half of the ninth, TCU threatened as they put two on with only one out but closer Cade Denton responded with a strikeout and a flyout to seal the victory for ORU.
Denton earned the win to improve to 3-1 on the season after tossing 1.2 innings of one-run baseball and striking out two. Starter Jakob Hall dealt five strong innings, allowing only two runs and striking out three.
Justin Quinn led all players with a 4-for-5 performance at the dish to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. McCroskey joined Quinn with a multi-hit performance after going 2-for-4 with a two-run homer.
After three scoreless frames, the Horned Frogs jumped in front first with a solo homer to right-center.
The Golden Eagles responded in the sixth as McCroskey lifted a two-run opposite-field homer to right, putting ORU in front, 2-1. McCroskey’s long ball was his 14th of the season and first since May 2.
TCU answered in the bottom half of the frame with an RBI single to even the score at 2-2.
In the eighth, the Horned Frogs loaded the bases with only one out and pushed across three runs to take a 5-2 lead.
Inside the Box Score
– ORU totaled six runs on 11 hits.
– Quinn matched his career-high for hits with four in the win.
– The multi-hit performance marked his 22nd of the year.
– McCroskey logged his 25th multi-hit performance of the season after going 2-for-4 at the plate.
– Hall delivered five strong innings of two-run baseball and struck out three.
– Dalton Patten and Caleb Isaacs also made appearances in relief.
– Denton struck out two in 1.2 innings of work.
– ORU is making its second College World Series appearance (1978).
– The victory marked the second in program history for the Golden Eagles at the College World Series.
– With the win, ORU set a new program record (D1-era) for wins in a season.
– The Golden Eagles have won 24 of their last 25 contests and are 42-4 in the last 46 games.
– Friday’s contest marked the 46th meeting all-time between the two clubs.
– With the victory, the Golden Eagles are 27-19 all-time against the Horned Frogs.
– Jonah Cox’s 47-game hit streak, the third-longest in NCAA history, came to an end.
– Quinn extended his hit streak to 17 games.
– McCroskey has now reached base safely in 18 straight games.
– Brothers pushed his on-base streak to 12 games.
– Catcher Jacob Godman stretched his on-base streak to 12 games.
The Golden Eagles will face the winner between Florida and Virginia on Sunday at 6 p.m. from Charles Schwab Field.
A SPECIAL WIN, A SPECIAL BLAST FOR GATORS IN CWS OPENER
OMAHA, Neb. — Among the thousands of out-of-town visitors who departed Charles Schwab Field late Friday after a classic nightcap in the College World Series, it was difficult to imagine two people headed for such different nights of rest than Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan and Virginia’s Brian O’Connor.
Florida’s stunning 6-5 comeback win over Virginia was the 678th career win for O’Sullivan, but few will be as memorable as what transpired on a warm Nebraska evening in this CWS-crazed city.
“Special things happen this time of year,” O’Sullivan said.
Soon after Florida’s dugout emptied to rush onto the field and celebrate Luke Heyman’s game-winning RBI sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning, O’Connor, born and raised here and back in his hometown for a sixth trip to college baseball’s biggest stage, had a look of shock as he entered his postgame press conference.
O’Sullivan and O’Connor both have national championships on their resumés, but as O’Sullivan basked in the ecstasy the game often delivers, O’Connor resided in its agony following the events of a ninth-inning comeback that Gators fans will talk about long past the final out of this CWS.
“A very tough loss,” said O’Connor.
That is a sentiment sure to be shared by diehard Cavaliers fans. The opposite is true for the Florida faithful. They will relive the ninth inning any chance they get.
The bottom of the ninth began with Virginia holding a 5-3 lead, adding an insurance run in the top of the inning on an RBI triple by Harrison Didawick. The Gators’ magical comeback started with a solo home run by Ty Evans to make it a one-run ballgame. Evans slammed a 2-1 pitch from Virginia left-handed reliever Jake Berry into the left-field seats.
Berry, called upon with two outs in the seventh to maintain a 4-2 lead, then struck out Cade Kurland for the second out. It was the last out Berry would get. However, he would face four more Gators before finally handing the ball to O’Connor in a tie game.
“I have zero regret,” O’Connor said. “Jake Berry has done the job for this team all year long. He’s been tremendous when we’ve had a lead and closed games out for us. And they did a terrific job against him, got his pitch count up, and executed very well.”
Following Kurland’s at-bat, Gators phenom Wyatt Langford stepped into the batter’s box with a chance to tie the game. It took two pitches. Langford hit a majestic, no-doubt-about-it home run over the concourse in left to bring the Gators even and those in the sold-out crowd of more than 24,000 to their feet.
Mired in a 2-for-23 slump and hitless in the Gainesville Super Regional sweep against South Carolina, Langford crushed a 1-0 pitch from Berry that he knew was gone the instant he made contact. Langford immediately pumped his arms and looked toward the Gators’ dugout as the crowd gasped and buzzed.
“Going up to the plate, I was thinking the same thing I always do,” Langford said. “I was going up there to compete, get on base, and pass the torch for the next man to eventually lead us to winning the game.”
The home run was the third of the game for the Gators off Berry, who entered the game having allowed only three home runs all season in 48 2/3 innings. He gave up a solo shot to catcher BT Riopelle in the eighth, making it a 4-3 game.
O’Connor stuck with Berry despite Langford’s 456-foot bomb, the longest home run in the CWS since the event moved to Charles Schwab Field in 2011.
“He showed right there in that at-bat how great of a player he is,” O’Connor said. “Rose up at the big moment when his team needed him.”
O’Sullivan had seen it before from his All-American left fielder nicked the Trenton Thunder, a tribute to the small town Langford calls home in north Florida.
“He’s one of the best players we’ve ever had,” O’Sullivan said. “He has a knack for rising to the occasion with a couple of other guys, too.”
While Langford’s blast was a show-stopper, the Gators kept charging. Jac Caglianone singled, Josh Rivera walked, and Berry loaded the bases by hitting Riopelle. O’Connor finally came to the rescue and brought in right-hander Jay Woolfork to face Heyman.
Three pitches later, Heyman hit a deep fly ball to center that easily scored Caglianone from third and set off a joyous celebration in short right field as teammates swarmed Heyman.
Veteran team leader Riopelle said the Gators never gave up after losing a 1-0 lead when the Cavaliers broke out with a four-run seventh inning.
“We’re always bringing the attack to our opponent,” Riopelle said. “We don’t let the opponent dictate the pace of the game or the way we play or whatnot. We dictate that. Your best players have to play the best in the right moments to win games. And we did that tonight.”
The Trenton Thunder agreed. He is known more for his bat than his mouth but provided some insight into the Gators following their 21st comeback victory of the season.
“We’re never out of a baseball game,” Langford said.
A fact O’Connor and the Cavaliers had to sleep on Friday night — if they slept at all.