MACOMB, Ill. – The Oral Roberts baseball team hits the road for the final series of the regular season facing Western Illinois for three games May 18-20. Game one is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. with live coverage on the ORU Sports Network.
THE STORYLINE: The Golden Eagles travel to Macomb, Illinois for the final series of the 2017 regular season having already clinched the No. 1 seed at next week's Summit League tournament. It could be a preview of the first-round matchup as Western Illinois enters the series fourth in the standings, despite having dropped its last five games.
FACING THE LEATHERNECKS: ORU has dominated the all-time series with WIU holding a 69-9 record dating back to 1986. The Golden Eagles shutout the Leathernecks twice in the first series March 31-April 2, but WIU picked up a 5-2 win in the middle game to snap a seven-game conference streak for ORU.
POWER SURGE: Brent Williams is climbing up the home runs charts hitting long balls in four of his last five outings to total 16 this season. He is the first ORU player to homer in three-straight games since Jared Schlehuber did so in March 2012. His surge last week behind a 1.250 slugging percentage earned Summit League Player of the Week honors. Williams leads the conference in home runs and ranks 14th nationally, while Noah Cummings moved to seventh in the NCAA with 64 RBI.
PITCHING DOMINANCE: Miguel Ausua ranks fourth in the nation and paces the league with nine wins for ORU as the pitching staff remains one of the best in the country. The Golden Eagles have the eighth-best ERA at 3.12. Josh McMinn and Ausua are the only two pitchers in the league with a sub-two ERA.
ESPN'S TOP PLAYS: In a span of nearly two months, ORU baseball recorded three top 10 plays on ESPN's Sportscenter, more than any other collegiate baseball team in America. Nick Roark (2/28), Cal Hernandez (3/21) and Noah Cummings (4/18) all represented the Golden Eagles on the nationally-televised segment.
STREAK CONTINUES: Behind last Friday's shutout of Omaha, ORU clinched its 17th-straight regular season title in The Summit League and secured the task of hosting the 2018 conference tournament.
MILESTONE WIN: March 26 against South Dakota State, ORU Head Coach Ryan Folmar picked up his 150th career victory after a 6-2 win. His record now stands at 153-103 (.598) in his fifth season leading the Golden Eagles.
FREE BASES: During a 13-inning game March 24, ORU drew a season-high 13 walks against South Dakota State. It was the most in a single game since a 16-walk effort at Little Rock March 24, 2015. The teams also combined for 26 walks, more than any other game in at least 20 years at ORU.
AUSUA'S WEEKLY AWARD: Ausua was named Summit League Pitcher of the Week for the second time season throwing seven shutout innings at NDSU May 7. The junior won his conference-leading ninth game allowing just five hits.
MORE LEAGUE HONORS: Senior Grant Glaze picked up his first-career Summit League Pitcher of the Week honor after a career day at SDSU in week 10 and Matt Whatley followed with his second weekly award in week 11. Glaze threw five shutout innings in long relief striking out eight, while Whatley hit .636 in a weekend sweep of Fort Wayne adding eight RBI.
TOP THE SUMMIT AGAIN: For the second time this season, Noah Cummings and Justin McGregor were named Summit League Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively. Cummings accounted for 15 runs during a perfect 4-0 week, while McGregor threw ORU's first complete game in 2017 at Omaha.
THIRD TIME THE CHARM: ORU landed both the Summit League Player and Pitcher of the Week for three-straight weeks March 13 with Dylan Snypes and Josh McMinn earning the honors. Snypes had a pair of three-hit efforts, including his team-leading eighth double, while McMinn pitched eight innings in a win over No. 16 DBU allowing just one earned run.
SUMMIT HONORS: Matt Whatley and Justin McGregor were named Summit League Player and Pitcher of the Week in week three. Whatley extended his hitting streak with a pair of home runs at U.S. Bank Stadium and McGregor moved to 2-0 with a mid-week win at Kansas.
WEEKLY WINNERS: ORU swept The Summit League weekly honors in week two as Noah Cummings and Miguel Ausua were named Player and Pitcher of the Week. Cummings hit .500 with two home runs, six RBI and a .938 slugging percentage. Ausua limited Alabama to just one run and six strikeouts in six innings securing the weekend sweep.
TOURNAMENT ACCOLADES: The Golden Eagles had three players named to the 30th Dairy Queen Classic all-tournament team in Minneapolis. Matt Whatley (catcher), Nick Roark (2nd base) and Trevor McCutchin (designated hitter) were all named to the team.
POWER FIVE TILTS: Coach Folmar and the Golden Eagles have not shied away from playing the NCAA's top conferences. Over the last three seasons, ORU has posted an 18-12 mark against the Power Five, going 13-6 when facing a team from the Big 12. ORU is 22-23 against teams in Power Five conferences during his tenure, including a 9-3 mark in home games.
WALKING OFF: For the first time since April 7, 2009, an ORU hitter provided late-inning fireworks hitting a walk-off home run. In the bottom of the 13th inning Feb. 18 against Little Rock, senior Michael Hungate drove a ball well over the fence in left field for a 4-3 victory.
RETURNING DEPTH: ORU boasts one of its most experienced lineups welcoming 20 letter winners. The returners accounted for 70 percent of the run and hit total from 2016, including all but seven of the team's home runs. The pitching staff, behind 12 pitchers back on the roster, returns its winning pitcher from 30 of its 38 victories.
DAUNTING SCHEDULE: ORU faces a daunting schedule in 2017 taking on three NCAA Tournament teams from 2016, including three games against Oklahoma State, a College World Series participant.
HOSTING THE BEST: The top four teams in the league's regular-season standings will qualify for The Summit League Baseball Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As defending champions, ORU is set to host the four-team event at J.L. Johnson Stadium from May 24-27.
STAYING CONNECTED: Follow the Golden Eagles all season long across social media platforms and two mobile apps (ORU Golden Eagles Live and ORU Front Row) available on Google Play and the App State. Use the hashtag #ORUBase to stay connected with fans across the nation.
For the latest information on ORU Baseball, follow the Golden Eagles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading two mobile apps, ORU Golden Eagles Live and ORU Front Row, available on the App Store and Google Play.