ORU Selected to Repeat as Summit League Baseball Champions
ELMHURST, Ill. − 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.
Newcomer of the Year Seth Furmanek returns to the Oral Roberts lineup for Coach of the Year Rob Walton this season after leading the league in slugging percentage (.710). Furmanek was also second in the league in home runs with 17 and had 63 RBIs. The Golden Eagles look to replace four players selected in the 2009 MLB Draft, including Player and Pitcher of the Year selection Mark Serrano. Jeff Burleson is the top returning pitcher for ORU after collecting a 3.12 ERA and a 3-0 record in 14 appearances. P.J. Sequeira and Tyler Garewal also return as both batted .330 last season with 38 and 33 RBIs, respectively. The Golden Eagles welcome back four all-league selections from last season.
Centenary brings back three of its top four hitters from a year ago in its attempt to dethrone Oral Roberts from the top spot. Tell Ross had a .350 average last season with a team-leading 49 RBIs. Michael Tompkins (.348) belted a team-leading eight home runs, along with an on-base percentage of .463 for the Gents. Outfielder Cliff Shepard recording a .571 slugging percentage and 101 total bases, both team-highs, helping the Gents to a 16-10 league record. On the mound, Justin Kraft collected a 4.08 ERA with four complete games, while Boone Whiting had 86 strikeouts in 80.0 innings pitched. Kraft, Ross and Tompkins were all second team all-league honorees last season for head coach Ed McCann.
After finishing third in the league standings last season, the Jackrabbits welcome back two of the top power hitters in the league in all-league selections Jesse Sawyer (19 home runs) and Joel Blake (13 home runs). Sawyer’s 19 dingers were tops in the league, while he also produced a team-high .701 slugging percentage and 58 RBIs for head coach Ritchie Price. Blake batted .351 last season, along with a team-leading 21 doubles. John Lee (.305) also returns, along with top pitcher Trever Vermeulen, who registered a 4.68 ERA with three saves in 20 appearances.
Southern Utah head coach David Eldredge welcomes back 15 letterwinners from last season’s squad that finished second in the league with a 15-7 record. Second team all-league selection Steve Johnson leads that group after ending the year with an 8-4 record in 84.2 innings pitched. Bo Cuthbertson also returns for his sophomore campaign after leading the team with a .393 batting average with 11 doubles. Matt Sanford (.366) and Bucky Aona (10 home runs) also return to the lineup for the Thunderbirds.
The Bison and head coach Tod Brown look to build off last season’s team as they welcome back six starters. The team is led by second team all-league honorees John Straka and Justin Kline. Straka recorded a 3.49 ERA with four complete games, while Kline (.432) had a .503 on-base percentage with only 19 strikeouts in 125 at-bats. Also back in the lineup is infielder Zach Wentz, who batted .349 with 25 RBIs last season.
Second team all-league selection Tommy Jablonski leads Oakland in its quest to capture The Summit League title. Jablonski batted .328 with 58 hits and 35 runs scored for the Golden Grizzlies last season. D.J. Jarrad also returns to the lineup after batting .291 with eight doubles. On the mound, head coach John Musachio welcomes back Matt LaMothe (5.45 ERA; 2 complete games).
IPFW looks to improve on last year’s record with the return of Shaun VanDriessche and the addition of Brandon Knowling to the starting rotation. VanDriessche batted .314 with seven home runs, 14 doubles and a .505 slugging percentage for the Mastodons last season. Knowling returns following a season-ending injury in his first game a year ago to help Samuel Walker (4.17 ERA) solidify the rotation for head coach Bobby Pierce.
The Fighting Leathernecks and first-year head coach Mike Villano return Cole Waddell and Andrew Hagins to the lineup. Waddell batted .357, while Hagins belted 10 homers with a .552 slugging percentage for Western Illinois a year ago.
The top four teams based on the regular season standings will compete for The Summit League Baseball Championship at J.L. Johnson Stadium in Tulsa, Okla., May 27-29. The winner of the double-elimination tournament will take home the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Team Points (1st)
1.Oral Roberts 49 (7)
3.South Dakota State 36 (1)
4.Southern Utah 30
5.North Dakota State 27
8.Western Illinois 13