No. 1 national seed Wake Forest was expected to make it to the Men’s College World Series.
Oral Roberts? Not so much.
Yet it’s on to Omaha for the Golden Eagles, who certainly look the part of a team deserving to be among the final eight in the NCAA tournament after going on the road and sweeping through regionals and then winning a three-game super regional against Oregon.
ORU is the lowest seed to reach the MCWS since Stony Brook in 2012. The feat is reminiscent of ORU’s run to the Sweet 16 in the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Now the team from the small evangelical school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will head to Omaha, Nebraska, to play TCU on Saturday at Charles Schwab Field. Oral Roberts’ only other MCWS appearance was in 1978, when the team was known as the Titans and played as an independent.
“We’re going to let it fly here in a week,” coach Ryan Folmar said after his team’s 11-6 win Sunday night. “We knew we had a good club coming into the year. We continued to get better and better and better, and we’re playing well at the right time of year. We get an opportunity to keep playing, and that’s pretty fun.”
ORU has never been an easy out in the NCAA tournament, but this team, out of the low-major Summit League, has overachieved against big-money baseball schools.
The Golden Eagles were a No. 4 regional seed and beat Oklahoma State, Washington and Dallas Baptist to advance to play the Pac-12 Tournament champion Ducks.
After blowing an eight-run lead and losing the super regional opener — ending their 21-game win streak — they rallied in the ninth inning for a walk-off victory Saturday and came back Sunday to knock out the Ducks.
ORU and TCU are joined in the MCWS field by No. 1 national seed Wake Forest, No. 2 Florida, No. 5 LSU and No. 7 Virginia.
The eight-team field will be complete after a pair of Game 3s on Monday. Tennessee will play at Southern Mississippi and Texas visits Stanford with both teams looking to make their third consecutive trip to Omaha.
Stanford’s Quinn Mathews threw 156 pitches and had 16 strikeouts — both career highs — in his first career complete game, and the Cardinal scored three runs in the ninth to break open an 8-3 win over Texas.
Mathews, who has thrown at least 100 pitches in 15 of his 17 starts this season, scattered eight hits and a walk to get the win.
Wake Forest is headed to the MCWS for the first time since it won the national championship in 1955, and the Demon Deacons will bring the hottest offense in the country.
The Demon Deacons tied the NCAA tournament record with nine home runs in their super regional-clinching 22-5 win over Alabama, and they are the first team since LSU in 1997 to have won four tournament games by double digits.
“We’ve had high expectations all year — No. 2 ranked, No. 1 ranked,” coach Tom Walter said. “The higher the expectations got, the more these guys showed up.”
Projected first-round draft pick Brock Wilken, who had no homers in the Deacons’ first four tournament games, went deep three times. Nick Kurtz and Wilken hit back-to-back homers in the first inning, and Wilken connected again for the first of three third-inning homers that put Wake Forest up 10-3. Wilken’s homer in the ninth gave him 30 for the season and an ACC-record 70 in his career.
Virginia beat Duke 12-2 to earn its sixth trip to the MCWS, all since 2009 under coach Brian O’Connor. The Cavaliers outscored their ACC rival 26-6 in the second and third games. It was the fourth time Virginia has come back to win a super regional after losing the opening game.
The Cavaliers took control of Game 3 with a five-run second inning. Griff O’Ferrall went 4-for-5, Kyle Teel drove in four runs and Brian Edgington struck out a season-high 11 in the second complete game of his career.
Cade Beloso’s three-run homer in a four-run third inning broke open LSU’s 8-3 win over Kentucky. Riley Cooper and Gavin Guidry pitched 5⅔ innings of shutout relief for the Tigers, who will play in the MCWS for the 19th time, and first since 2017.
Chase Dollander pitched eight strong innings as Tennessee won 8-4 at Southern Miss to force a Game 3. Blake Burke’s 479-foot homer to right highlighted a six-run fourth inning that gave the Volunteers the lead.
TAKING A HEADER
Oregon reliever Matt Dallas somehow managed to stay in the game after getting hit in the head by a line drive in the seventh inning.
The ball came off Jake McMurray’s bat at just under 97 mph, according to ESPN, and glanced off the right side Dallas’ head and landed in the outfield for a hit. An athletic trainer rushed to check Dallas, who was knocked down. Dallas threw a couple of warmup pitches and then got a flyout to end the inning.
AROUND THE HORN
Wake Forest’s 68-year wait to return to the CWS is the longest for any team with more than one appearance in Omaha. … Virginia has won 15 of 16 since losing an ACC series to Duke in late April. … Oral Roberts, 2012 Stony Brook and 2008 Fresno State are the only No. 4 regional seeds to play in the CWS since the tournament went to its current format in 1999. Fresno State won the national championship. … Stanford’s Mathews has thrown 336 pitches in 20 innings over 10 days.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.