Golden Eagles Seek 13th Straight Title as Summit League Tournament Play is Underway

TULSA, Okla. – ORU enters the weekend in search of its 13th straight Summit League Tournament championship … ORU’s championship streak is the third-longest in NCAA history behind Oklahoma State (16) and Wichita State (14) … South Dakota State, Centenary and Oakland join ORU in the tournament field … the Golden Eagles are 39-1 (.975) all-time in league tournament games, and have won their last 30 tournament contests … ORU’s only tournament loss was a 6-1 setback to Southern Utah in 2000 … the Golden Eagles are a combined 10-0 in the post-season against the 2010 tournament field … a tournament championship would put ORU in NCAA Regional play for the 22nd time.

Saladino Named Summit League Player, Newcomer of the Year
Junior SS 
Tyler Saladino has been named Summit League Player and Newcomer of the Year in voting by league head coaches. He is joined on the all-league first team by teammates OF Nick Baligod, DH Seth Furmanek and RHP Bryce Smolen. OF’s Chris Elder and Joey Winiecki were named to the second team.
    Saladino enters this weekend’s Summit League Tournament batting .388 overall with 17 home runs, 71 RBI and 14 stolen bases. In 28 Summit League games Saladino hit a league-best .491 while collecting at least one hit in every game. He added 11 home runs and 50 RBI. Saladino is the 14th ORU player in 13 seasons to either win or share player of the year honors, and the ninth to capture newcomer accolades.
    Baligod earns first team honors after enjoying a strong first season with the Golden Eagles. The junior left-handed hitter is batting .377 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI overall, and batted .435-8-35 in 28 Summit League games.
    Furmanek joins Saladino and Baligod after leading the league in home runs. Overall, Furmanek is batting .313 with 21 homers and 58 RBI, while also serving as a catcher and starting pitcher. His 21 home runs are the most by an ORU player in 11 seasons, and are two shy of the league season record. In Summit play Furmanek batted .389-13-38 in 25 games. 
    Smolen is the only ORU pitcher named to the all-league team. The junior righty is 8-3 overall with a 4.61 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 84.0 innings. He posted 6-1, 3.33 numbers in conference play. 
    Elder enters the post-season hitting .320-6-45, but batted .426-3-18 in league play. Winiecki is batting .337-022 with 13 stolen bases overall, and .327-0-16 with eight steals in Summit League contests.
    South Dakota State’s Ritchie Price was named Coach of the Year while Boone Whiting of Centenary was named Pitcher of the Year.

Junior SS Tyler Saladino is in the midst of one of the finest seasons in ORU history. Not only is he batting .388-17-71 in 57 games, he’s been dominating Summit League pitching staffs to the tune of .491-11-50 in 27 games. Saladino recorded at least one hit in all 28 Summit League regular-season games, the third-longest active streak of its kind. Below is a list of conference-games hitting streaks for 2010:
Player (School)    Games
Garrett Wittles (FIU)    *29
Tyler Saladino (ORU)    *28
Chris Dudics (Toledo)    *27
John Malloy (LaSalle)    24
Steve Nyisztor (Rutgers)    20

Power Surge
ORU enters the 2010 Currington Mortgage Summit League Tournament with a league-leading 91 home runs, which also ranks fifth nationally. The homer total is not only the fourth-best season effort in school history, but just nine away from the school record of 100 hit during the 1999 season.
    Additionally, ORU has four double-digit home run hitters for the first time since 1986. Seth Furmanek (21), Tyler Saladino (17), Nick Baligod (10), Colby Price (10) are in the double-figure column this year. The 1986 quartet was led by Pete Schmidt (15) and included future Major Leaguers Craig Colbert (14), Keith Lockhart (10) and Bob Zupcic (10).

Powerful Duo
Senior C/DH Seth Furmanek and junior SS Tyler Saladino have spent the better part of the season pounding opposing pitching, and now they’re chasing history. With 38 combined home runs, the pair needs four more to become the top home run hitting duo in ORU history. 
Players (HR)    Season    Total
Mike Hill (23)/Ryan Neill (18)    1999    41
Furmanek (21)/Saladino (17)    2010    38
Ron Henika (20)/Keith Mucha (15)    1983    35
Furmanek (17)/Juan Martinez (16)    2009    33
Rick Vaughan (18)/Brad Robinson (15)    1987    33
Mike Batesole (18)/Page Odle (14)    1985    32

Bunt You Very Much
Junior OF Joey Winiecki has made a living this season via the bunt base hit. Winiecki enters Summit League Tournament play with 20 bunt singles, and a team-high 12 sacrifice bunts. 

Chart Climber
With two home runs last weekend against North Dakota State, DH/C Seth Furmanek moved up the ORU career top 10 list. With 38 career bombs, Furmanek enters this weekend’s Summit League Tournament alone in fourth place on the all-time list. His 21 homers this season makes him tied for fifth on the school single-season list.

ORU and the MLB Draft
Four members of the 2010 Golden Eagles have heard their names called in the Major League Baseball draft:
Player    Team (Yr)    Round
Bennett Pickar, C    ATL (‘09)    15th
Tyler Saladino, SS    HOU (‘09)    36th
Dallas Beeler, RHP    TOR (‘08)    37th
Brett Sowers, INF    LAD (‘06)    47th

Walk On
ORU won its 12th straight Summit League championship last season with as many as four walk-ons in the starting line up on any given day. Injuries have again ravaged ORU in 2010, but this time the pitching staff has been effected. Of the eight pitchers who saw mound time three weekends ago at South Dakota State, four were walk-ons (Friday starter Jameson Dunn, Sunday starter Dallas Beeler and relievers Dan Martony and Bryce Smolen). All four have been solid contributors for ORU all season.

Injuries on the Mound
Those walk-ons have been needed more than ever because of injuries to the pitching staff. RHPDrew Bowen (elbow), LHP Mike Torrence (rib cage), RHP Jason Stacy (shoulder), RHP Jared Schlehuber (three appearances in last 2 mos.), RHP R.J. Davis (various) are all out for the season, while RHP Sean Johnson (various), RHP Dallas Beeler (Tommy John recovery) and RHPJameson Dunn (various) have all missed significant time. As a result, ORU’s 6.20 ERA is on pace to be the highest in school history.

Baligod Earns Weekly Honors from Louisville Slugger, Summit League
OF Nick Baligod has been named player of the week by both Louisville Slugger and The Summit League, it was announced on May 3. The Louisville Slugger award is presented weekly by Collegiate Baseball newspaper.
    Baligod earns both weekly honors after hitting .789 (15-19) with five doubles, four home runs and 12 RBI in four games last week for the Golden Eagles. The junior collected at least three hits in every game and had a five-RBI and four-RBI efforts.
    Baligod posted a 1.684 slugging percentage and a .818 on-base percentage. He helped ORU set school single-game records for runs, hits and runs in an inning in a 34-10 win at IPFW.

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 255-36 (.876) in Summit League regular-season games, and 223-26 (.896) since 2000. The Golden Eagles own a 39-1 (.975) tournament record, giving ORU a 294-37 (.888) overall record in conference contests. Under coach Rob Walton, the Golden Eagles are 156-21 (.881) against league opponents, including a perfect 18-0 in post-season play. ORU has won 30 consecutive Summit League tournament games since last suffering a loss to Southern Utah in the 2000 tournament. 

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.

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 28-49 record in 77 contests against ranked teams the past seven seasons, including 3-5 this year.  Last season, the Golden Eagles defeated No. 5 Rice, 5-2 on March 8, 2009 to give Walton his highest-ranked victim.

Golden Eagles Sign Seven During Early Signing Period
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. 

ORU’s House
The Golden Eagles back the belief about home field advantage, posting a record of 865-230-2  (.789) since J.L. Johnson Stadium opened in 1978. Since Rob Walton  became head coach in 2004, the Golden Eagles have posted a 159-20 (.889) mark at home.