Tulsa To Omaha: Chasing The ORU Golden Eagles As They Prepare For The College World Series

It’s not easy to get to Omaha from Tulsa.

Friday, June 16th 2023, 3:24 am

By: N/A N/A


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It’s not easy to get to Omaha from Tulsa.

U.S. Route 75 starts in Dallas, Tx., and runs 1,239 miles north to the Canadian border, cutting right through Green Country, taking a slice off Kansas, and the tiniest sliver of Nebraska. It takes you through towns with names like Independence, Auburn, and Neodesha, and most of it is two-lane. You stop, start, slow down, speed up and just when you think you can finally turn on cruise control and relax, you find yourself on Main Street of another little town that could come right from a Norman Rockwell painting.

It could not be a worse metaphor for the Oral Roberts baseball season.

Indeed, the Golden Eagles seemed to have the cruise set and a four-lane highway all season long, on the way to a program-record 51 NCAA Division I wins, 21 in a row at one point, a 30th NCAA regional appearance, and the first College World Series berth since 1978. Not much slowed them down, outside of the slightest speed bump of a game one Super Regional loss to Oregon.

Now that ORU is in Omaha, it doesn’t look like they plan to take an exit anytime soon.

Things could not have been set up better for the Golden Eagles. They draw TCU in the tournament opener, a good team in their own right, but middle-of-the-pack in the Big 12 for much of the season until catching fire late. In fact, College Baseball Nation gives ORU a nine percent chance to win the national championship, higher than that of the Horned Frogs (four percent) or Stanford (three). That’s due in large part to a team that seems to be built to succeed in Omaha. ORU’s 95 home runs as a team led the Summit League by far but rank sixth out of the eight teams at the College World Series. They don’t depend on the long ball to score runs, which is a luxury at cavernous Charles Schwab Field, whose dimensions often swallow up would-be round-trippers and turn them into routine flyouts.

Ryan Folmar has a deep and versatile pitching staff at his disposal as well, giving him the luxury to mix and match to gain matchup advantages. We saw in the Stillwater regional, he’s not afraid to go to the bullpen early if a starter is struggling, with guys like Evan Kowalski, Jacob Widener, Dalton Patten, and Caleb Isaacs at the ready to sop up innings. Backing all those guys up is All-American Cade Denton and his mid-90s fastball. Denton’s 15 saves were tied for most in the nation this year and gives Folmar a consistent presence at the back end of games from which to build forward.

The refrain when regions were announced was ORU got the short end of the stick as four-seed in arguably the toughest regional in America. All they did since was sweep that regional, then win back-to-back must-win games in a raucous Eugene Super Regional to become just the fourth four-seed in history to make it to Omaha. One of those four seeds, Fresno State in 2008, won the whole thing.

Maybe, just maybe, there might be room for one more.

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