FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Oral Roberts baseball team is ready for a postseason run starting Friday night at sold-out Baum Stadium in the opening game of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional. The Golden Eagles face No. 1 seed and host Arkansas at 7 p.m. in the double-elimination event. Catch the action all weekend on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app or tune in live to the ORU Sports Network for audio coverage.
THE STORYLINE: The Golden Eagles enter the NCAA Fayetteville Regional as the No. 4 seed riding a season-long, nine-game win streak. ORU won all three games during The Summit League Championship to earn the conference's automatic bid for the 18th time in program history.
NO STRANGER TO REGIONALS: ORU is making its 27th all-time appearances at the NCAA Baseball Championship and third-consecutive. The Golden Eagles are 33-48 overall in 26 previous trips to regionals, but have dropped six-straight games.
LOADED UP: Based on average RPI rankings of the four teams competing, the Fayetteville Regional is the second-most difficult of the 16 played. Top seed Arkansas enters 14th and No. 2 Missouri State is 29th. No. 3 seed Oklahoma State is ranked 40th, while ORU is the second-best No. 4 seed in the event at 82nd.
FACING THE HOGS: ORU has not met Arkansas since the 2015 NCAA Regional in Stillwater, Oklahoma and posted a 36-66-1 record all-time. The Razorbacks have won each of the last six matchups with the Golden Eagles, but ORU claimed a 4-3 win in 11 innings in the opening game of the 2006 regional in Fayetteville on the way to their last appearance in a super regional.
FACING THE BEARS: The Golden Eagles and Bears split a home-and-home series during the 2017 regular season as the visitors won both meetings. MSU won 9-5 in Tulsa the first week of the year before ORU held the Bears to three hits in a 3-1 victory in Springfield, Missouri. The Golden Eagles hold a 31-22 all-time record with MSU and potentially will meet for the first time in postseason history.
FACING THE COWBOYS: No stranger to one another, in-state rivals ORU and OSU have evenly split the 70-game, all-time series 35-35. The Golden Eagles claimed wins in two of three meetings in 2017, both coming at J.L. Johnson Stadium during the month of May.
SUMMIT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT: The Golden Eagles swept through the Summit League Championship in three games winning for the 18th time. ORU improved to 59-3 all-time in the postseason event going unbeaten for the 15th time and was one of only three top seeds to win its conference tournament.
HOME RUN DERBY: The Fayetteville Regional features three of the NCAA's top 30 home run hitting teams. Arkansas (80) ranks 11th, while Missouri State (72) and Oral Roberts (67) are 18th and 29th, respectively. MSU's Jake Burger sits fourth nationally hitting 22 long balls and Chad Spanberger from Arkansas is 10th with 19 home runs. Brent Williams leads ORU launching 16 home runs to rank 36th in the NCAA.
PITCHING DOMINANCE: Miguel Ausua ranks second in the nation with 11 wins for ORU after a complete-game, five-hit shutout of North Dakota State in The Summit League Championship game. He currently rides a 31.2-inning streak of scoreless pitching, the most by an ORU pitcher since Golden Eagles' Hall of Famer, Dennis Bigley, threw 33 innings without allowing a run in 2005.
TOP DUO IN AMERICA: Ausua, joined by Josh McMinn, have the best combined ERA of all starting pitcher duos in the country at 3.75.
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.
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 with defensive gems.
SWINGING ORU: Williams hit home runs in four of his last five outings to close the regular season. He became the first ORU player to homer in three-straight games since Jared Schlehuber did so in March 2012. His surge earned Summit League Player of the Week honors as he leads the conference in home runs.
BRING 'EM HOME: Noah Cummings has been a RBI machine all season for the Golden Eagles posting 69 in 56 games played from the clean-up spot. The junior is 10th in the country and has 22 multi-RBI performances this season, including a career-best five at Omaha. Thirty-one of his RBI have come with two outs, where he is hitting .351, while he has a .385 average with runners in scoring position.
KEEP WALKING: Over his last four games, catcher Matt Whatley has been walked nine times to move into ORU's top 10 all-time. The junior has drawn a walk in 33 of 56 games played totaling 47 free passes in 2017. He now has 112 walks in his career with the Golden Eagles, ranking eighth in program history.
STOUT FINISH: Taking over the role of closer in the middle of the season, Kyler Stout has been electric from the bullpen. The junior ranks nationally with 11 saves, which is fifth in ORU single-season history.
STREAK CONTINUES: Behind a shutout of Omaha in game one of its final home series, 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 176-109 (.618) 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.
FINAL WEEK WINNERS: Whatley and Ausua swept the Summit League weekly awards Monday as each earned their third of the season. Whatley hit .545 and slugged 1.364 with three home runs and six RBI, while Ausua won his 10th game allowing only two base runners in five, shutout innings at WIU.
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.
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.
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 on the road.
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 in recent history welcoming back 20 letter winners. Those players back in the navy and gold accounted for more than 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 again faced a daunting schedule in 2017 taking on three NCAA Tournament teams from a season ago, including two games against Oklahoma State,
a College World Series participant. In total, the schedule featured seven teams that ended
the 2016 campaign ranked in the nation's top 85 by RPI.
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.