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ORU Opens Pursuit of 14th Straight Summit League Title on Thursday

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 05/25/2011
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First Pitch
ORU enters the weekend in search of its 14th straight Summit League Tournament championship ... ORU’s championship streak is currently the third-longest in NCAA history behind Oklahoma State (16) and Wichita State (14) ... South Dakota State, North Dakota State and Western Illinois join top-seeded ORU in the tournament field ... the Golden Eagles are 42-1 (.977) all-time in league tournament games, and have won their last 33 tournament contests ... ORU’s only tournament loss was a 6-1 setback to Southern Utah in 2000 ... the Golden Eagles are a combined 8-0 in the post-season against the 2011 tournament field, with all eight wins coming against South Dakota State and Western Illinois ... a tournament championship would put ORU in NCAA Regional play for the 23rd time ... this weekend marks just the third time in 14 years that the tournament has been played somewhere other than ORU’s J.L. Johnson Stadium (2004 at Centenary; 2007 at Western Illinois).

ORU in the Summit League Tournament
The Golden Eagles are 42-1 (.977) all-time in 13 previous Summit League Tournaments, the best tournament winning percentage in league history. ORU’s only loss was a 6-1 defeat to Southern Utah in the second round in 2000. Southwest Missouri State was 23-5 (.821) in its seven seasons in the league (1984-90) before leaving for the Missouri Valley Conference.
    ORU head coach Rob Walton is 21-0 all-time in seven previous Summit League Tournament appearances.

ORU vs. 2011 Summit League Tournament Field
The Golden Eagles are 7-5 this season vs. the 2011 Summit League Tournament field. Overall, ORU is a combined 85-18 (.873) all-time against the 2006 field (24-7 vs. South Dakota State; 10-4 vs. North Dakota State; 51-7 vs. Western Illinois).
    In tournament play, ORU is 3-0 vs. South Dakota State and 5-0 vs. Western Illinois. ORU and North Dakota State have never met in the post-season.

ORU in Elite Company
With the Golden Eagles having won 13 straight Summit League Tournament titles, ORU has joined some elite company. Only two other schools -- Oklahoma State and Wichita State -- have won more consecutive conference titles than the Golden Eagles. Oklahoma State won 16 straight Big Eight tournament titles from 1981-1996. Wichita State won 14 straight MVC crowns between 1987 and 2000.

Power Surge
After hitting just eight home runs in the season’s first 30 games, the Golden Eagles are enjoying a power surge of sorts. In the last 23 games, ORU has connected for 28 homers, easily surpassing its season total from the first two months. Over that span Chris Elder leads the team with eight, Cam Schiller and Brandon King have five apiece, while Nick Baligod has four. T.J. Bennett, Jared Schlehuber, Brett Sowers and Brett Burch have one apiece. Bennett Pickar, who started the home run spree with his only homer of the season on April 19 vs. Arkansas, has two.
    Despite the power display, the Golden Eagles are well behind last season’s record total of 105 home runs. Entering last season’s Summit League Tournament, ORU had 91 bombs.

Walton Captures 300th Career Victory
Cam Schiller and Spencer Barnett combined to drive in seven runs and Oral Roberts head coach Rob Walton picked up career win No. 300 as the Golden Eagles defeated San Diego State 11-7, Sunday, April 3 at Tony Gwynn Stadium.
    He is third all-time at ORU in coaching victories, and he is the third coach in ORU history to reach 300 wins.
Summit League Dominance
With 13 straight Summit League titles, the Golden Eagles own the third-longest streak in NCAA history behind Oklahoma State’s 16 consecutive Big Eight crowns (1981-96) and Wichita State’s 14-straight Missouri Valley titles (1987-2000). Since joining the Summit League (formerly the Mid-Continent Conference) for the 1998 season, ORU is 276-41 (.870) in Summit League regular-season games, and 244-31 (.887) since 2000. The Golden Eagles own a 42-1 (.977) tournament record, giving ORU a 318-42 (.883) overall record in conference contests. Under coach Rob Walton, the Golden Eagles are 180-28 (.865) against league opponents, including a perfect 21-0 in post-season play. ORU has won 33 consecutive Summit League tournament games since last suffering a loss to Southern Utah in the 2000 tournament.

Freshmen of Influence
ORU might not have won its 13th straight Summit League regular season title had it not been for the contributions of freshman RHP Alex Gonzalez and fellow freshman INF T.J. Bennett.
    Drafted in the 11th round as asenior at Boca Raton (Fla.) Community HS, Gonzalez wasted no time in asserting himself as ORU’s top strating pitcher. A three-time Summit LeaguePitcher of the Week, Gonzalez enters Summit League Tournament play with a 7-5 record and a 2.77 ERA. His seven victories are the most by an ORU freshman since 2003, and his 89 strikeouts are the most for a freshman since 2001. Gonzalez was even better in League play this season, going 5-0 with a 1.71 ERA.
    A late addition to the ORU roster last summer, Bennett has in many wasy been just as valuable as Gonzalez. Despite rotating between second and third base, Bennett has produced a .293-1-15 line in 48 games (44 starts). In Summit play, Bennett is batting .324-1-9.

MLB Draft Picks Dot 2011 Roster
Six members of the 2011 ORU roster have been previously selected in the MLB Draft:
Player    Pos.    Rd.    Team (yr.)
Alex Gonzalez    RHP    11th    Baltimore (2011)
Bennett Pickar    C    15th    Atlanta (2010)
Brandon King    OF    16th    Baltimore (2011)
Kurt Giller    RHP    21st    Toronto (2009)
Jason Stacy    RHP    46th    Philadelphia (2005)
Brett Sowers    INF    47th    Los Angeles-NL (2006)

Bunt You Very Much
Senior OF Joey Winiecki has made a living throughout his career via the bunt base hit. Winiecki enters Summit League Tournament play with 24 bunt singles. In two seasons at ORU, Winiecki has 47 bunt base hits.

Our House
The Golden Eagles back the belief about home field advantage, posting a record of 879-235-2  (.789) since J.L. Johnson Stadium opened in 1978. Since Rob Walton  became head coach in 2004, the Golden Eagles have posted a 173-25 (.874) mark at home.

Gonzalez named Summit League Pitcher of the Week three times
Freshman right-hander Alex Gonzalez carried plenty of hype into his rookie season and, so far, he hasn’t disappointed.
    An 11th round pick of the Baltimore Orioles last June, Gonzalez is 7-5 with a 2.77 ERA and 89 strikeouts in 94.1 innings. His seven wins are the most by an ORU freshman since 2003 and his strikeouts are the most by an ORU freshman since 2001.
    Gonzalez has earned Summit League Pitcher of the Week accolades after strong performances against Baylor (Feb.  20), SIU-Edwardsville (Feb. 26), Bethune-Cookman (Mar. 11) and Southern Utah (May 20). He has thrown at least 7.0 innings in seven of his 15 starts.
King Named Summit League Player of the Week
ORU outfielder/designated hitter Brandon King has been named Summit League Baseball Player of the Week, the league office announced on Monday.
    King records his first career Player of the Week honor after leading ORU to a series win at Oakland. The junior transfer had at least two hits in three of the four games, including two three-hit performances.
    In game two of the series, King was 3-for-5 with four RBI and three runs scored and went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored in game one. For the week, King was 9-for-17 (.529) with seven RBI, six runs scored, three doubles and two home runs. He also drew a walk, hit a sacrifice fly, and produced a .526 on-base percentage and 1.059 slugging percentage.
    King raised his season batting average 22 points over the weekend and is now batting .335 with 12 doubles, seven home runs and 40 RBI.

Drew Bowen Named Summit League Pitcher of the Week
Drew Bowen has been named Summit League Pitcher of the Week, the league office announced on Monday.
    Bowen collects his first career Pitcher of the Week award after shutting down IPFW in a 1-0 ORU win in game one of the series. The sophomore right-hander established season-highs with 7.1 innings pitched and nine strikeouts, and recorded the first six outs of the game by punch-out.
    Bowen yielded five hits, just one for extra-bases, and two walks. He worked around a lead-off double in the third inning and induced an inning-ending double play with two runners on base in the sixth.

Baligod Named Summit League Player of the Week
ORU senior outfielder Nick Baligod has been named Summit League Player of the Week, the league office announced on April 11.
    Baligod earns his second career Player of the Week award after leading the Golden Eagles to a 5-0 record, including a 4-0 start in league play. The senior reached base eight straight times to start the four-game set with Centenary, including going 4-for-4 with four RBI in game one.
    Baligod had three multi-hit games, three multi-RBI contests and reached base at least twice in four out of five games. On the week, he hit .550 (11-20) with eight RBI, four runs scored, three doubles, one triple and a stolen base, along with a sacrifice fly. He also had an .800 slugging percentage and a .565 on-base percentage to help ORU to a six-game winning streak.

Cam Schiller Named Summit League Player of the Week
ORU shortstop Cam Schiller was named Summit League Baseball Player of the Week, the league office announced on April 25.
    Schiller earns his first career Player of the Week honor after batting .538 in league games last week, helping ORU to a series split at North Dakota State. The junior had a hit in every game of the series, including two multi-hit contests. He belted two home runs with three RBI in game one, along with two doubles and three RBI in game three of the series.
    In five games last week, including a one-run loss to No. 12 Arkansas, Schiller batted .438 with nine RBI, seven hits, six runs, three homers, three walks, two doubles and two sacrifices. He also had a 1.125 slugging percentage and .524 on-base percentage.
    For the season Schiller is batting .296 with four home runs and a team-leading 28 RBI.

Walton Named to USA Baseball Staff
USA Baseball announced the four members of the 2011 Collegiate National Team coaching staff on Thursday.  Missouri’s Tim Jamieson will manage the club next summer, and he will be joined by pitching coach Rob Walton (ORU) and assistant coaches Dave Van Horn (Arkansas) and Scott Stricklin (Kent State).
    Walton returns for his third stint with Team USA.  In addition to his time with the 2005 club, Walton managed the 2008 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, which, in finishing an undefeated 24-0, is widely considered one of the greatest U.S. Collegiate Teams of all time.  Known as one of the top pitching minds in baseball, Walton helped lead an ’08 staff that featured the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Mike Leake, Mike Minor and Kyle Gibson. 

ORU vs. Ranked Opponents
The Golden Eagles always face a tough non-conference schedule, and have held their own against ranked opponents. Under Rob Walton, the Golden Eagles have posted a 30-66 record in 96 contests against ranked teams, including 2-5 this year. 

ORU Picked to Win Summit League... Death, Taxes Still a Certainty
After winning its record 13th straight league championship a year ago, ORU was an overwhelming choice to claim The Summit League crown in 2011 as voted on by the league’s eight head coaches.
    Reigning tournament champion ORU returns three of its top four leading hitters from last season after receiving seven first-place votes and 49 points. Senior first team all-league selection Nick Baligod leads the way for the Golden Eagles after hitting .390 with a team-leading .486 on-base percentage to go along with 11 home runs and 54 RBI. Senior all-league recipients Chris Elder and Joey Winiecki also return for head coach Rob Walton. Elder batted .331 last season, while Winiecki hit .329 and stole 14 bases. On the mound, southpaw Mark Guest returns for his senior season after leading ORU with a 4.35 ERA a year ago in 23 appearances. Senior Bryce Smolen (4.41 ERA) is also back after leading the league with six complete games and a 9-3 record last season.

Golden Eagles Sign Seven During Early Signing Period
ORU head baseball coach Rob Walton recently announced the signing of seven future student-athletes to National Letters-of-Intent.
    Among the recruits are five junior college signees and two high school student-athletes. The 2011 class includes: INF Nate Goro (Jefferson (Mo.) College), LHP Michaelangelo Guzman (Hartnell (Calif.) College), OF Kentrell Hill (Arkansas Baptist), RHP Nick Quezada (Cerritos College), RHP Andrew Walter (Yavapai College), RHP Phillip Wilson (Owasso (Okla.) HS), and C/3B Jose Trevino (Corpus Christi John Paul II HS).

ORU Baseball History
The Golden Eagles have appeared in 21 NCAA Regionals, including 12 straight, since the baseball program began in 1966. ORU earned its first-ever trip to the NCAA Super Regionals in 2006. ORU made its only trip to the College World Series in 1978, defeating North Carolina in the opener before losing a pair of one-run games to Arizona State and Miami. The Golden Eagles have had 10 First-Team All-America selections, 17 second-team selections and 19 third-team selections. ORU has also had eight Freshman All-America First-Team honorees, as well as four freshman honorable mention recipients. ORU boasts 16 major leaguers, including Doug Bernier, Michael Hollimon and Steve Holm, who all made their debuts in 2008. Other notable major leaguers include Keith Lockhart (former Atlanta Braves infielder), Tom Nieto (former Minnesota Twins catcher), Bob Zupcic (ex-Boston Red Sox outfielder), Todd Burns (former Oakland A’s reliever) and Mike Moore. In 1981, Moore was selected as the No. 1 overall draft pick by Seattle and went on to a 14-year career, winning a World Series title and appearing in the All-Star game with Oakland in 1989.
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