TULSA, Okla. - Oral Roberts baseball continues its homestand with a three-games series with conference foe IPFW beginning Friday at J.L. Johnson Stadium. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. with sophomore Bryce Howe on the mound.
Geoff Haxton will have the radio call on 1550 AM in the Tulsa area and around the world for free through ORUAthletics.com.
The team's will play a doubleheader Saturday beginning at 2 p.m. to wrap up the series. Tickets purchased for Sunday's game will be honored during each of Saturday's games. The scheduled Easter Egg Hunt has also been moved to Saturday
The series marks a rematch of the Summit League Championship from a year ago when ORU defeated the Mastodons, 6-0, to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
SERIES HISTORY WITH IPFW
Oral Roberts leads the all-time series with the Mastodons 26-3 and are winners of eight straight, including a 6-0 shutout in the Summit League Championship last spring in Sioux Falls, S.D. The last time ORU fell to IPFW was in 2012 in a 6-5 loss in Fort Wayne. ORU outscored IPFW 36-16 in a three-game series at J.L. Johnson Stadium a year ago.
LOOKING AT FORT WAYNE
Fort Wayne welcomes back all six of its second team selections from a year ago in shortstop Greg Kaiser (.361, 10 HR), designated hitter Brock Logan (.295, 44 H), starting pitcher Evan Miller (6-5, 94 K), outfielders Brandon Soat (.294, 53 R) and Shane Trevino (.307, 48 RBI) and first baseman Kendall Whitman (44 R, 44 RBI).
The Mastodons come into the weekend series 9-11 overall and 0-3 in Summit League play after being picked to finish second in the preseason poll. The team is led by Kendall Whitman who has a put together a .306 average and a .375 slugging percentage in 19 starts. He is the only players on the club to be above the .300 mark. Evan Miller leads the way on the mound with a 2-1 record in five starts. He has a 5.13 ERA and has struck out 25 batters in 26 and a third innings of work.
LEADING THE WAY
To no one's surprise, Matt Whatley has been the consistent carrier of the offensive load this season, batting .361 with five doubles, three triples and three home runs, but senior Rolando Martinez has stepped into the spotlight as well. Martinez leads ORU with a .375 average and has driven in 12 runs while drawing 13 walks on the year. The lefty holds a team-high .494 on-base percentage and has scored 13 runs this season.
SO FAR THIS WEEK
The Golden Eagles are coming off a 5-0 shutout of Oklahoma on Tuesday. Cale Tims tossed six and two third innings of four hit baseball on his way to his second victory of the season. Matt Whatley led the charge offensively going 2-of-4 with a double, triple, walk and two runs scored. The win pushes ORU's streak to four games versus the Sooners with three of the wins being shutouts. The Golden Eagles have given up only one run in the last four meetings.
SUMMIT LEAGUE HONORS
After a masterful week on the diamond, senior Rolando Martinez was named the Summit League's Player of the Week. It was the first weekly honor for the Bakersfield, California native. He had three multi-hit games over the week, including a three-hit game vs. South Dakota State Saturday. In five games last week, he recorded three doubles, a triple and drew five walks while driving in four runs and scoring six times. Martinez finished with a .571 average for the week with a .700 on-base percentage and slugged .929, helping ORU to a 3-2 record. The award marked the third time this season that an ORU player earned player of the Week accolades.
ANY WAY, ANY HOW
Rolando Martinez comes into the weekend series with a team-high .494 on base percent. The senior is tied for the team lead with 13 walks and has strung together 24 hits in 19 starts. He also leads the team with an 11 game reached base streak that began Mar. 5 against Little Rock when he blasted his second home run of the season.
COME ON DOWN
Prior to last weekend's series with SDSU, sophomore outfielder Sam Grellner appeared in three games, all as a pinch hitter. After a pinch hit single Friday night, the Okarche, Oklahoma native got his shot in the starting lineup and made it count, going 4-for-7 in two games as the designated hitter. He finished the weekend with three RBI, two walks and a double.
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.
The Golden Eagles have been keen to getting out of trouble when opponents put runners on base this season, turning 22 double plays on the year. Against Little Rock, ORU was able to turn nine during the series. The team ranks 14th in the nation in the category and first in the Summit.
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.
Oral Roberts has been tabbed to repeat as Summit League baseball champions in a poll of the league's head coaches. The Golden Eagles are looking to extend on their record 15 regular season titles and 16 tournament championships in 2016. ORU received all five of its possible first-place votes. Fort Wayne, last season's tournament runner-up, was picked second, its highest preseason ranking in program history. South Dakota State was slotted third with the final first-place tally, followed by Omaha, North Dakota State and Western Illinois. The Golden Eagles finished the 2015 season with a 41-16 overall mark and 25-5 in The Summit League, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time in program history.
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.
For the latest information on ORU baseball, follow @ORUBaseball on Twitter or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the Golden Eagles Front Row App at ORUAthletics.com/frontrow or in the App Store.