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Baseball Set to Take on U.C.-Irvine in Lincoln Regionals

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 05/29/2008
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Head Coach Rob Walton.

LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Oral Roberts baseball team is set to take on U.C.-Irvine in the first round of the NCAA Lincoln Regional tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. at Haymarket Park. ORU qualified for their 11th straight regional appearance and 20th overall after capturing The Summit League’s automatic bid by capturing their 11th straight league tournament title last weekend in Tulsa.

ORU enters regionals with a 46-12 overall record and is one of the hottest teams in college baseball by winning the last 12 games. With the 46-12 record, the Golden Eagles collected their 11th straight 40-win season and and finished league play with a 24-4 record while claiming the regular season championship. ORU enters the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country, having won 12 consecutive and 15 of the last 16 games. The Golden Eagles currently hold the second-best winning streak in the nation and hold the best winning streak at home with a 19-game streak at J.L. Johnson.

All ORU games will be broadcasted on KYAL FM 97.1 in the Tulsa area with Geoff Haxton calling the action. Live stats for all games will be available on-line at www.NCAAsports.com.

ORU Versus the NCAA Tournament Field
The three-seeded Golden Eagles enter the NCAA 2008 Regionals with a 6-6 record against teams that qualified for the postseason. ORU was 0-1 against Texas, split the season series with Dallas Baptist (2-2), went 1-1 against Wichita State, 1-2 against Pepperdine and 2-0 against Arkansas.

ORU has faced the host-team Nebraska 34 times with ORU leading the overall series by a 19-15 margin. The last time the two teams have faced off was in 1996 with the Golden Eagles claiming the series win at home, 2-1.

This will be the first time a Coach Walton led ORU squad will face the Cornhuskers. ORU is 4-6 against NU in games played in Lincoln. U.C.-Irvine and ORU have met each other nine times before with the Anteaters holding a 5-4 edge. The two
squads played a series in Irvine in 2006 with ORU dropping all three games. However, ORU is 1-0 against the Anteaters in a neutral field setting. ORU defeated U.C.-Irvine, 11-4, on March 12, 2004 in Malibu, Calif.

ORU is 2-1 against former Mid-Continent Conference member Eastern Illinois with the two teams playing a three-game series in 1997. The two teams have not faced each other since and have not seen each other on a neutral field.

Golden Eagles Grab 11th Straight Summit League Title
The Golden Eagles captured their 11th straight league tournament this past weekend by outscoring their three opponents, 35-14, in three games.

In the 9-0 championship win over Southern Utah, Jerry Sullivan threw a complete game shut out for Oral Roberts, giving up five hits and tying a career-high with 12 strike outs. Ben Petralli, Juan Martinez and tournament MVP Brian Van Kirk launched homers for the Eagles.

Behind the usual formula of power hitting and shutdown starting pitching, ORU coasted toward another automatic berth in the NCAA baseball championships. In the process, the Golden Eagles defeated a Southern Utah team searching for its first Summit League title.

It was the ninth time that ORU hosted the tournament and the Golden Eagles have gone 29-1 in those tournament games. Their only loss in the tournament came at the hands of Southern Utah on May 18, 2000. However, ORU avenged the loss to SUU that season by defeating the Thunderbirds in the championship game, 8-4.

Since Rob Walton became head coach, ORU is 118-10 against league opposition (including tournament play) for a .922 winning percentage. That includes a 15-0 tournament mark. Since joining the league, formerly known as the Mid-Continent Conference, in '98, the Golden Eagles are 204-25 (.889) and have won 11 consecutive league titles, the third longest in NCAA Division I history.

Coach Walton
Rob Walton is in his fifth season as ORU head coach, with a record of 219-76 (.742). Walton earned national recognition in the summer by being named the Team USA Baseball head coach for the 2008 summer. In only five years, Walton is the winningest coach in ORU history and has earned league coach of the year honors three times.

The 2008 team led the league in all the major statistical categories including batting average (.330), hits (666), runs (501), ERA (4.22) and strikeouts (465). Walton recorded his 200th career victory in an 11- 3 victory over Western Illinois on April 19.

Golden Eagles in Elite Company
With their 11th consecutive conference championship in 2008, ORU now has the third-longest streak in NCAA Division I history, just passing Texas who won 10 straight Southwest Conference Championships on two different occasions. Oklahoma State won 16 consecutive Big Eight crowns from 1981-96, and Wichita State won 14 Missouri Valley titles in a row from 1987-2000.

Top-Five Winningest Programs Since 2001
Since 2001, the Golden Eagles have been one of the best overall programs in Division I baseball. They currently hold the third best winning percentage since the ’01 campaign.

1. Rice .772 (403-119)
2. Florida State .750 (400-134)
3. ORAL ROBERTS .736 (356-128)
4. Texas .718 (381-150)
5. Notre Dame .704 (301-126-2)

To read the rest of the game notes click on the link at the top of the page.

--ORU--

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