NORMAN, Okla. -- No. 25 OU baseball team, which has won four of its last five games, returns home to begin a four-game home stand, starting with No. 28 Wichita State (9-2) on Tuesday, Feb. 28. First pitch at L. Dale Mitchell Park is scheduled for 3 p.m. and Tuesday is also $.50 hot dog and coke day at the park.
After the contest against the Shockers, the Sooners will host UC Riverside for a three-game set over the weekend.
Watch the action live from L. Dale Mitchell Park on the O-Zone beginning at 3 p.m. Internet audio will be available on Yahoo with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play and former Sooner DeWayne Vaughn on color. Pregame coverage for all Sooner baseball games begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch. In addition, live stats for each of the games can be viewed on Soonersports.com.
UPDATING THE SOONERS
The 9-3 Sooners are coming off another 2-1 weekend after their third and final tournament of the season.
OU opened the Service Academies Classic against host Memphis and fell 2-1, despite a nine-inning, 10-strikeout outing by Daniel McCutchen. The Sooners posted their lowest offensive output of the season (one run on four hits) and blew a 1-0 lead after the Tiger plated runs in the seventh and ninth innings. Friday’s game was the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
On Saturday against Indiana State, the Sooners rebounded to post their eighth double-digit hit performance of the season in a 6-3 victory. Steven Guerra improved to 4-0 with another strong outing that saw the hurler allow two earned runs on four hits and record five strikeouts in six innings pitched. Freddy Rodriguez and Jackson Williams fueled the Sooner offense with two hits and two RBI apiece.
In the tournament finale, the Sooners rallied from behind for the second consecutive day and won 4-3 over then-No. 22 Notre Dame. The come from behind win was complete after Kody Kaiser connected on a double to right center in the seventh inning. OU took an early 2-0 lead after Aaron Reza blasted a two-run shot over the left field fence in the third frame but the Irish countered with their own homer, a three-run round-tripper. P.J. Sandoval lasted 5/2/3 innings and did not record the decision, but the OU bullpen, led by John Brownell (1-0) and Will Savage (fourth save), limited the Irish to three hits over the final 3 1/3 frames.
TICKETS AND PROMOTIONS
Seats to Tuesday’s game are available for $10 (reserved), $7 (adult general admission), $5 (youth general admission) and $3 (groups of ten or more -must be ordered 24hrs in advance) at the OU Athletics Ticket Office (800-456-4668) and at SoonerSports.com. The gates will open an hour and a half before game time. Tuesday is $.50 hot dog and coke day at L. Dale Mitchell Park and the first 500 fans will receive a free OU Foam Noodle.
SCOUTING WICHITA STATE
Wichita State, ranked No. 28 in Collegiate Baseball this week, enters Tuesday’s game with a 9-2 record. The Shockers have won five straight after dropping their second defeat of the season to Southern Mississippi. Before that contest on Feb. 17, WSU went 4-1 against Hawaii-Hilo. The Shockers have also defeated South Alabama and Stetson in single games and most recently swept Nichols State in a three-game set.
-Offensively, Matt Brown is leading the team with 15 RBI and is second in batting average with a .460 clip. Brown is one of five regulars in the WSU lineup hitting over .400 and one of six Shockers with 10 or more RBI.
-Freshman Aaron Shafer (2-0, 0.90 ERA) is expected to get the starting nod against OU. Shafer has two victories in 2006 against Hawaii-Hilo and Stetson. He has five strikeouts and zero walks in 10 innings tossed this season.
-Wichita State is coached by Gene Stephenson, who is in his 29th season at the Shockers’ helm. He is 1,515-491-3 (.755) in that span.
-WSU leads the all-time series with OU, 8-7. The two split a home and home series in 2005 and have split two-game sets in each of the last three seasons.
The Sooners remain in Norman to continue their four-game home stand against UC Riverside for a three-game set that begins on Friday, March 3 and ends on Sunday, March 5. Friday’s game will be an internet-only broadcast and Saturday and Sunday’s contests will be carried on the Sooners’ flagship station KOKC (1520 AM) with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play.
PLAYER TO WATCH - AARON REZA
For the first time since the preseason polls were released, the Oklahoma baseball team cracked into the top-25 rankings this week. The Sooners are No. 25 in the Collegiate Baseball poll.. OU started off at No. 29 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll.
SERVICE ACADEMIES CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Daniel McCutchen and Jackson Williams were honored as part of the 18th Annual Service Academies Classic held last weekend at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn. McCutchen tied a career high with 10 strikeouts against Memphis on Friday, lasting 8 2/3 innings in the defeat, while Williams hit .375 with two RBI.
GOLLOWAY AND STEPHENSON HEAD-TO-HEAD
As the two skippers both rank in the top-15 of all-time winningest active coaches (see pg. 4), they have also coached opposite each other on six occasions. Golloway, who coached at ORU for eight seasons, leads the series against Stephenson, 4-2. Below is a breakdown of the games:
2005, May 3 OU defeats WSU 5-4 Norman
2003, May 13 WSU defeats ORU, 13-2 Wichita
2003, March 25 ORU defeats WSU, 11-5 Tulsa
2002, June 1 ORU defeats WSU, 15-8 Wichita*
2002, May 21 ORU defeats WSU, 6-1 Wichita*
1999, May 28 WSU defeats ORU, 13-5 Wichita*
* indicates NCAA Regional
SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN
OU ranks third in the Big 12 in runs scored with 94 and it has recorded well over half of those tallies in the second through six innings this season. The Sooners have crossed the plate 67 times in those five innings, including 17 times in the sixth frame alone. Additionally, OU has scored first in all but three of its games this season (Texas State, Rice and Indiana State) and is 7-2 when it posts the game’s first run, suffering losses to Lamar on Feb. 5 and Memphis. OU is 2-1 when forced to come from behind. Listed on page 13 is a complete breakdown of the Sooners’ runs scored inning-by-inning.
Although early in the season, the 9-3 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team after recording 10 or more hits in eight of its 12 games. Additionally, the Sooner offense has scored double-digit runs on four occasions this season (UTPA, WIU-twice and Lamar-Feb. 18). OU is averaging just under eight runs a game (7.8) and 10.6 hits per game in 2006. Additionally, seven different Sooners are hitting .300 or better (minimum 15 at-bats) and 10 sluggers have five or more RBI, including three with 10-plus (Caufield, Reza and Smith).
The Sooners’ offense has had the spotlight early in the season, but the starting rotation has been equally effective. Seniors Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra and P.J. Sandoval have started four games apiece so far in 2006 and have made each start last five innings or more on all but one occasion (2 1/3 innings for Sandoval on Feb. 5 vs. Lamar). Guerra has pitched six innings or more three times this season, while McCutchen has gone six-plus innings twice and Sandoval has one start over six innings.
CONSISTENT POSITION STARTERS
The Sooners have used numerous different starting lineups this season, featuring two or more players at every position except right field. Chuckie Caufield has started all 12 games in right field and is the only Sooner to start every game in 2006. In addition, Caufield has hit in the leadoff spot in all but one game this season.
Since the formation of the Big 12 Conference in 1997, the Sooner baseball team has started off a season with a 9-3 mark after 12 games on three occasions, including this season (2003, 2004). The best start was a perfect 12-0 record in 1998.
The 2006 Sooners are proving to be a team that has options on offense. As the team ranks fourth in the Big 12 in batting average (.320) and third in runs scored (94) and RBI (87) this season, it has also shown that productive outs are as important as power. OU has shown its ability to be successful as a “small-ball” lineup that can bunt, run and advance runners. In addition to leading the conference in the power numbers listed above, the Sooners also lead the Big 12 in sacrifices (18-for-19) and they have executed four squeeze bunts out of five, resulting in scoring four runs from third base. OU is also third in the conference in stolen bases (22).
SOONERSPORTS.COM SPECIAL FEATURE
Click here for an article brought to SoonerSports.com from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, a national baseball publication that has been covering the sport since 1958. The feature story was printed last month in the Jan. 6 issue and spotlights the amazing story of how OU sophomore Kody Kaiser and his uncle, OU head coach Sunny Golloway, were brought together at the University of Oklahoma.
Senior hurlers Daniel McCutchen and Will Savage rank in the top ten on OU’s career saves list. With four saves this season, Savage is tied at the No. 5 spot with former Sooner and current professional Geoff Geary (Philadelphia Phillies). Below is a look at where Savage and McCutchen rank all-time:
1. 28 - Jeff Bajenaru (1999-2000)
2. 17 - Jarod McAuliff (2002-04)
3. 14 - Bucky Buckles (1994)
4. 10 - Will Savage (2005-present)
5. 9 - Scott Dean (1981-82)
6. 8 - Geoff Geary (1997-98)
7. 7 - Daniel McCutchen (2004-present)
7 - George Frazier (1975-76)
7 - Matt Ruebel (1989-00)
7 - Scott Girod (1990)
7 - Scott Moore (1991-92)
UTPA CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Four Sooners were named to the 18-member All-Tournament Team for the UTPA Classic held in Edinburg, Texas. Ryan Rohlinger (4-for-7, 2 RBI), Ryan Mottern (4-for-9, 5 RBI), Chuckie Caufield (7-for-15, RBI) and Steven Guerra (1-0, 3.60 ERA) helped the Sooners to a 2-1 record at the UTPA Classic
BIG 12 COMMISSIONER’S HONOR ROLL
Ten members of the OU baseball team were named to the Fall Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Steven Guerra, Joseph Hughes, Aaron Ivey, Kody Kaiser, Ryan Mottern, Russell Raley, Aaron Reza, Ryan Rohlinger, P.J. Sandoval and Cory Williamson made the list. In order to qualify for the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll a student-athlete must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA for the semester. In addition, Guerra and Ivey maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA for the semester. .
OU BASEBALL ON RADIO AND TV
The University of Oklahoma baseball team released its 2006 radio and internet broadcast schedule on Jan. 31. The entire 56-game schedule will be broadcast live either on the radio by KOKC (1520 AM) or on the internet via Yahoo.
Ten of the games will be carried on the Sooners Sports’ Network, which enables fans to listen to OU baseball on the radio state-wide. For a list of affiliates in Oklahoma, visit the Sooner baseball page on SoonerSports.com.
In addition, the Sooners will also be seen live on television for five games this season. The coverage begins with the Texas series on March 31-April 2. That three-game set against the defending national champs will be aired on ESPNU from L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman. OU can also be seen live on Fox Sports Net for its April 15 game against Missouri. The Bedlam finale will also be televised by the Sooner Sports Network.
Below is a look at the games that can be seen on ESPNU, FSN and SSN in addition to the 10 network radio broadcast games.
Date Opponent Time Media Friday, March 31 Texas 7 p.m. ESPNU Saturday, April 1 Texas 5:30 p.m. ESPNU Sunday, April 2 Texas 1 p.m. ESPNU/KOKC (network) at Texas A&M 1 p.m. KOKC (network) Saturday, April 15 at Missouri 3 p.m. Fox Sports Network Sunday, April 16 at Missouri 1 p.m. KOKC (network) Sunday, April 23 at Texas Tech 1 p.m. KOKC (network) Sunday, April 30 at Kansas 1 p.m. KOKC (network) Sunday, May 7 Kansas St. 1 p.m. KOKC (network) Friday, May 12 vs. OSU# 7:30 p.m. KOKC (network) Saturday, May 13 vs. OSU* 8 p.m. KOKC (network) Sunday, May 14 vs. OSU* 5 p.m. SSN TV/KOKC (network) Sunday, May 21 at Nebraska 1:05 p.m. KOKC (network)
Sunday, April 9
Friday, March 31
Saturday, April 1
Sunday, April 2
at Texas A&M
Saturday, April 15
Fox Sports Network
Sunday, April 16
Sunday, April 23
at Texas Tech
Sunday, April 30
Sunday, May 7
Friday, May 12
Saturday, May 13
Sunday, May 14
SSN TV/KOKC (network)
Sunday, May 21
# game to be played at Drillers Stadium in Tulsa, Okla.
* games to be played at the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City
SAVAGE NAMED TO STOPPER OF THE YEAR WATCH LIST
Senior pitcher Will Savage was named to the watch list for the 2006 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year award presented to the nation’s top closer. The list is comprised of 30 closers in Division I baseball, 21 of those players ranked in the top 50 in the nation among saves and nine others were at-large nominations.
Savage became OU’s go-to guy in the bullpen in 2005. Including the postseason, Savage appeared in 18 of OU’s last 19 games. After he headed to the bullpen on April 16, Savage made 22 appearances, spanning 46 innings, to close out his year. In those innings of work, he posted a 2.35 ERA, recorded a 6-1 mark, made six saves, allowed 12 earned runs on 54 hits and seven walks while striking out 19 batters.
FIRST-YEAR HEAD COACHES
Sunny Golloway, OU’s eighth coach in program history, became the fourth consecutive Sooner coach to win his first season opener. Previous skippers Larry Cochell, Stan Meek and Enos Seymore were all victorious in their debuts. Below is a look at how the previous seven coaches in OU history have fared in their first year:
Year Coach, Record (winning %)
1906 Bennie Owen, 10-6 (.625)
1923 Bill Owen, 12-4 (.750)
1927 Lawrence Haskell, 12-5 (.706)
1942 Jack Baer, 17-7 (.708)
1968 Enos Seymore, 13-14 (.481)
1990 Stan Meek, 31-26 (.544)
1991 Larry Cochell, 40-23 (.635)
2005 Sunny Golloway, 9-3 (.750)
OU PICKED FIFTH IN PRESEASON BIG 12 POLL
The Oklahoma baseball team was picked fifth in the Big 12 Conference Coaches’ preseason poll as released by the league office. OU received 44 points in the Big 12 poll, ten points shy of fourth place Baylor.
This year’s poll marks the highest preseason prediction within the conference in the last three seasons, after being picked third prior to the 2003 season.
Texas once again topped the list for the fourth straight year with 79 points, including eight first-place votes. Nebraska (70) and Missouri (66) followed as the only other teams to receive a first-place vote with one each. The poll was based on a vote by each of the 10 conference head coaches who were not allowed to cast a vote for their own team in the process. Following OU was Oklahoma State (41) at No. 6, Texas A&M (36) at No. 7, Texas Tech and Kansas (24) tied at No. 8 and Kansas State (11) rounded out the list at No. 10.
2006 Big 12 Conference Coaches' Preseason Poll
GUERRA NAMED TO BROOKS WALLACE LIST
Senior hurler Steven Guerra was named to the watch list for the 2006 Brooks Wallace Award, presented annually to the national college baseball player of the year.
In his first season as a Sooner, Guerra appeared in 16 games, starting a team-high 15 and lasted at least five innings in 12 of those starts. The Paso Robeles, Calif., native complied a 5-6 record over 85.2 innings tossed (second most on the team) in 2005 and was tied for third on the team in strikeouts (53).
The Wallace Watch will be trimmed to 12 semi-finalists by late May.Then the selection committee will narrow the list to three finalists following the NCAA Super Regionals at a press conference in Omaha
The Sooners signed 14 athletes for the 2007 season last November. Below is a brief look at the incoming class.
-Aaron Baker- Denton, Texas (Denton HS)
C - 6-3 - 220 - L/R
-Very physical athlete, excellent power from left side of the plate
-Vincent Biancamano - Glendale, Ariz. (Chandler Gilbert C.C.)
IF - 6-0 - 190 - R/R
-Fits the mold of a very offensive middle infielder
-Tanner Chitwood - Sulphur, Okla. (Sulphur HS)
LHP - 6-3 - 220 - L/L
-Tall, physical power with a left-handed arm
-Andrew Doyle - Rock Island, Ill. (Alleman High School)
RHP - 6-3 - 205 - R/R
-Very athletic, physical, potential weekend starter
-Mike Gosse - Pitt Meadows, B.C. Canada (New Mexico J.C.)
IF - 5-9 - 170 - L/R
-Outstanding hitter that will bat for high average
-Bryant Hernandez - Oxnard, Calif. (St. Bonaventure HS)
IF - 5-9 - 161 - R/R
-Stellar defensive infielder, hits for average
-Chad Lee - Oklahoma City (Barton County Community College)
RHP - 6-3 - 190 - R/R
-Power pitcher that has made great strides in last year
-Garrett Richards- Edmond, Okla. (Edmond Memorial)
RHP - 6-3 - 185 - R/R
-Great control pitcher with high ceiling
-Tyson Seng - Enid, Okla. (Enid HS)
IF/RHP - 6-0 - 165 - R/R
-Exceptional all-around athlete, will compete with starters
-Devin Shepherd - Agoura Hills, Calif. (Oxnard HS)
OF - 6-4 - 230 - R/R
-Possibly best high school outfielder in the country, five-tool player
-Brandon Thomson - Gilbert, Ariz. (Chandler Gilbert C.C.)
LHP - 5-11 - 190 - L/L
-Left-handed arm with power, will likely be drafted high in June
-Danny Grande - Corpus Christi, Texas (Moody High School)
RHP - 6-0 - 170 - R/R
-Hard throwing right-hander, has a lot of upside-
-Zach Hedges - Bentonville, Ark. (Bentonville High School)
IF - 6-2 - 190 - R/R
-Very athletic corner infielder, power from right side of the plate
-John “Red” Patterson - Frisco, Texas (Grayson County College)
RHP - 6-3 - 200 - R/R
-Very consistent in the strike zone, throws 88-90