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Baseball Visits No. 12 UCLA for Weekend Series

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 03/18/2010
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First Pitch
ORU makes its annual trek west this weekend when they visit No. 12 UCLA for a three-game series, which begins Friday at Jackie Robinson Stadium ... 14 players on ORU’s 2010 roster are from California ... this is ORU’s first three-game series against UCLA since the Golden Eagles (then known as the Titans) took two of three from the Bruins in April of 1985.

Scouting UCLA
The Bruins are off to the best start in school history and have done it with impressive pitching and equally impressive hitting. As a team, the Bruins are hitting .355 and boast at 2.00 team ERA. Three  players are hitting over .400, led by Tyler Rahmatulla’s .420 average. Steve Rodriguez leads the Bruins with five home runs, though his .375 batting is “only” sixth-best on the squad. On the mound, the Bruins have been dominating opponents.  Sophomore right-hander Gerrit Cole leads an impressive group with a 4-0 record and 2.10 ERA. In 25.2 innings, Cole has struck out 41 batters and walked just four. The Bruins are limiting opponents to a .188 batting average.

Last Time Out
Fourth-ranked TCU scored five runs in the third inning and held on for a 6-4 win over Oral Roberts, Tuesday at J.L. Johnson Stadium. The Golden Eagles (5-7) staked themselves to an early lead when Tyler Saladino connected for an opposite field three-run home run off Greg Holle (2-0). Seth Furmanek followed with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out by P.J. Sequeira as ORU took a 4-0 lead. ORU maintained its 4-0 lead until the third inning when the Horned Frogs (13-2) batted around and took advantage of three Golden Eagle errors to score five runs. TCU scratched across its final run in the top of the eighth. 

Price Named Summit League Player of the Week
ORU senior infielder Colby Price earns his first Player of the Week award after batting .467 in a three-game series sweep of Western Michigan. The senior drove in five runs, scored five times with a double and three home runs. Price committed no errors at second base with just one strikeout in 15 plate appearances. The Brenham, Texas, native also slugged 1.133 on the week and had at least two hits in every game.

ORU Against 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 26-45 record in 71 contests against ranked teams the past six seasons. ORU tied its highest rated win under Walton on March 8, 2009 with a 5-3 victory over No. 7 Rice in Houston.

Death, Taxes and ORU Baseball Winning the Summit League...
After winning its record 12th straight league championship a year ago, Oral Roberts was a unanimous choice to claim its 13th consecutive Summit League crown in 2010 as voted on by the league’s eight head coaches.
    The Golden Eagles collected seven first-place votes for a total of 49 points. Centenary came in second with 39 points, followed closely by South Dakota State in the third slot with 36 points and the final first-place vote. Southern Utah (30 points) and North Dakota State (27 points) were each separated by three points apiece for the fourth and fifth positions, respectively. Oakland (16 points), IPFW (14 points) and Western Illinois (13 points) rounded out the voting.

Summit League Dominance
With 12 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 246-27 (.901) in Summit League regular-season games, and 207-17 (.924) since 2000. The Golden Eagles own a 39-1 (.975) tournament record, giving ORU a 285-28 (.911) overall record in conference contests. Under coach Rob Walton, the Golden Eagles are 137-12 (.919) against league opponents, including a perfect 18-0 in post-season play. ORU has won 30 consecutive Summit League tournament games since suffering a loss to Southern Utah in the 2000 tournament.

Nation’s Sixth-winningest Program Since 2004
Since Rob Walton took over as head coach for the 2004 season, ORU has consistently produced winning baseball teams. In fact, the Golden Eagles rank among the top five winningest programs over the last six seasons. The top six (thru games of March 14):
Rank     Team     Record     Pct.
    1.    Rice     304-100     .752
    2.    North Carolina     309-107     .743
    3.    Texas     302-110     .733
    4.    Florida State     303-111     .732
    5.    Arizona State    287-106    .728
    6.    ORU    259-99    .723
ORU head baseball coach Rob Walton recently announced the signing of eight future student-athletes to National Letters-of-Intent.
    Among the recruits are five junior college signees and three high school players. The 2010 class includes: 1B/LHP Art Charles (Bakersfield College), 1B/P Brad Fisher (Jenks (Okla.) HS), RHP Alex Gonzalez (Boca Raton (Fla.) Community HS), OF Brandon King (Fresno City College), RHP Aaron Kurcz (College of Southern Nevada), RHP Joey Perez (Corpus Christi (Texas) John Paul II HS), INF Joe Ramirez (Bakersfield College) and INF Cam Shiller (Yavapai College).

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. Overall, ORU has compiled a 1,575-791-4 (.667) record in 44 years of baseball, including an 848-224-2 (.791) record at J.L. Johnson Stadium, which opened in 1978. Current head coach Rob Walton is already the winningest coach by percentage in ORU history with a record of 259-99 (.723) in his seventh season.

Our House
The Golden Eagles back the belief about home field advantage, posting a record of 848-224-2 (.791) since J.L. Johnson Stadium opened in 1978. Since Rob Walton  became head coach in 2004, the Golden Eagles have posted a 143-15 (.905) mark at home.

Up Next
ORU hosts No. 25 Wichita State for a pair of mid-week games, beginning 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 23 at J.L. Johnson Stadium.
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