TULSA, Okla. - Golden Eagle baseball will play host to North Dakota State for a three-game series beginning Friday at J.L. Johnson Stadium. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. with sophomore Bryce Howe on the mound. The team's will continue play Saturday at 2 p.m. before wrapping up the series Sunday at 1 p.m.
Geoff Haxton will have the radio call on 1550 AM in the Tulsa area and around the world for free through ORUAthletics.com.
SERIES HISTORY WITH NORTH DAKOTA STATE
Oral Roberts and North Dakota State have met 28 times since the 2008 season with ORU leading the all-time series 20-8. The Golden Eagles have won four of the last five contests, including a quarterfinal matchup in Sioux Falls in the Summit League Championship last season. The team finished 5-2 against the Bison in 2015 dropping a game in Fargo, 7-6 and falling at home, 4-3. The longest streak in the series was between the 2009 and 2010 season when the Golden Eagles defeated NDSU four times in a row.
LOOKING AT THE BISON
The Bison enter the weekend with an overall record of 11-10 and a Summit League tally of 2-4 after dropping two of three games at Omaha March 25-27. Through 21 games, North Dakota State is led offensively by infielders Drew Fearing (.342, 27 H, 16 R, 6 2B, 12 RBI, 11 BB, 7 SB) and Brayden Resch (.324, 24 H, 14 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 14 RBI, 17 BB). On the mound through 21 contests, NDSU is paced by right-handed starter Reed Pfannenstein (3.12 ERA, 2-0, 26.0 IP, 28 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 17 SO, 11 BB) and right-handed reliever Brian VanderWoude (2.74 ERA, 4-1, 23.0 IP, 20 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 25 SO, 9 BB). NDSU is hitting .239 and has a 4.13 team ERA. Sophomore infielder Drew Fearing leads the Bison in batting average (.500), hits (12), doubles (4), runs scored (6), slugging percentage (.667), on base percentage (.571), total bases (16) and stolen bases (2) through six Summit League games.
LAST TIME OUT
Oral Roberts is coming off a 14-10 extra inning win over Kansas State on Wednesday in Manhattan. The Golden Eagles got things started quickly going ahead 2-0 and eventually leading 8-3, but the K-State offense got things rolling in the sixth and seventh innings to take a 10-8 lead. That was when Rolando Martinez and Noah Cummings led off the ninth inning with singles before eventually scoring the game-tying runs to send the game to extras. Michael Hungate would score the go-ahead run in the 11th after leading off the inning with a double. ORU would tack on three more insurance runs to secure the victory.
With the win, the Golden Eagles improved to 4-2 against Power-Five conference programs after wins over Auburn, Mississippi State, Oklahoma as well as the Wildcats.
ANY WAY, ANY HOW
Senior utility man Rolando Martinez has stepped into the spotlight this season for the Golden Eagles with ease. The Bakersfield, California native leads the team with a .351 average as well as a .480 on base percent. Martinez has also been on base for 15-straight games dating back to March 5. During that span, he has had 19 base hits, 11 walks and raised his average from .290 to .351.
SEND EM' HOME
Quietly turning into one of the teams' best options with runners on base, Brent Williams has put together a solid two weeks on the diamond. The junior has drove in at least one run in the last nine games with 14 RBI during the span. He leads ORU with 22 RBI on the season and ranks second in the Summit League.
The Golden Eagles have been keen to getting out of trouble when opponents put runners on base this season, turning 25 double plays on the year. Against Little Rock, ORU was able to turn nine during the series. The team ranks 16th in the nation in the category and first in the Summit.
Three positions on the field have been held in by the same player for all 24 games this season. Nick Rotola (CF), Nick Roark (2B) and Trevin Sonnier (SS) have each made every start for the Golden Eagles at their respective positions. Rotola has been a stronghold in center field with a 1.000 fielding percent while Sonnier (81) and Roark (54) stand at the top of the team in fielding assists. One other player in Matt Whatley has made starts in every game for the Golden Eagles. Whatley has started 22 games behind the plate while serving as the teams' designated hitter two times.
ROCK IN THE ROTATION
Friday night will mark the seventh start of the season for second-year right-hander Bryce Howe. Howe leads Oral Roberts with 28 strikeouts on the season, which is fifth best in the Summit League. In his six starts, Howe has a 1-1 record with four no decisions in 32.1 innings of work. Coming into the weekend series with the Bison, he ranks 26th in the nation with six starts.
ORU ranks tops in the Summit League and 42th nationally with 53 doubles headed into the weekend series. Against Kansas State, the Golden Eagles went for six doubles, including two by senior Chase Stafford who leads the club with nine on the season. Noah Cummings, Matt Whatley, Nick Rotola and Michael Hungate each have six doubles through 24 games.
COACH GETS 100
Oral Roberts Head Coach Ryan Folmar eclipsed the 100-win mark over the in March with a 14-5 victory over Little Rock. He became the sixth coach in program history to reach 100-wins.
Sophomore catcher Matt Whatley has been named to the 2016 Johnny Bench Award Watch List as announced by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. Whatley was one of 74 catchers named to the watch list for the Johnny Bench Award which is given annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher. Whatley was the only catcher from the Summit League to be named to the prestigious list. The watch list will be narrowed down to the semifinalists on May 18 followed by the announcement of the three finalists on June 6. The Johnny Bench Award will be presented on June 30 in Wichita, Kansas at the 19th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet. The award honors Cincinnati Red Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench, who was not only one of the greatest catchers of all time but revolutionized the position. He was the first catcher to use a protective helmet in the field, popularized catching one-handed and kept his throwing hand behind his back.
TWO-STRAIGHT, 30-WIN SEASONS
The 2015 squad topped the 30-win plateau for the second straight year. The two-straight 30-win seasons were accompanied for the first time in as many years with a berth to the NCAA Tournament.
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