NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma (21-15, 5-7) is set to travel to Columbia, Mo., for a key Big 12 series with Missouri (28-9, 8-4) this weekend at Simmons Field. The series will kick off on Friday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m. and be followed by games at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
The Sooners are coming off a solid offensive display on Tuesday night after they defeated UT-Arlington in Norman. OU collected 18 hits and 11 runs in the contest, including a season-high four home runs. In its last Big 12 outing, OU was swept by No. 1 Texas in three games.
Missouri is also coming off the losing end of a series sweep in conference play to Oklahoma State. The Tigers rebounded on Wednesday by defeating Saint Louis, 13-4. OU has won seven out of the last ten meetings with MU and has swept the Tigers in four of the last five regular season series meetings. The Sooners lead the all-time series with Missouri, 134-95 (40-16 under Cochell).
The three-game series between OU and Missouri will be broadcast live on KOKC (1520 AM) with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play. The pre-game show will start 15 minutes prior to the scheduled first pitch with the exception of Friday’s game, which will be joined in progress at 7 p.m. All times and availability are subject to change. Live stats will also be available through SoonerSports.com.
STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP
Friday, April 22
OU - D. McCutchen, RHP (1-3, 5.87 ERA)
MU - M. Scherzer, RHP (6-1, 1.20 ERA)
Saturday, April 23
OU - S. Guerra, RHP (4-3, 3.58 ERA)
MU - N. Culp, LHP (6-1, 2.75 ERA)
Sunday, April 24
OU - B. Burns, RHP (2-1, 3.83 ERA)
MU - D. Mathis, RHP (3-2, 2.75 ERA)
Overall Record: 28-9, Big 12: 8-4
Rankings: No. 17/24 (Baseball America and Sports Weekly/ESPN)
Missouri, like the Sooners, have been tough to beat when playing at home (17-2). It has only suffered losses to Eastern Michigan and Texas Tech. The Tigers are 5-5 in their last 10 outings and were the Big 12’s best team before suffering the sweep at the hands of Oklahoma State last weekend. The Tigers are tied for second in the standings with Nebraska.
Six different Tigers are currently batting over .300 and each of the six hitters have driven in 17 or more runs in 2005 (three with 30+). Missouri’s James Boone stands out, as he is second in the conference with 62 RBI (13 in Big 12 games only ranks third). The junior centerfielder is batting .371 with six homers and leads the club with 49 hits.
Max Scherzer, who combined to no-hit Texas Tech earlier in the season with seven innings tossed and 14 strikeouts, is the conference’s leader in K’s (86) in overall games and in conference games only (40). Scherzer, Friday’s probable starter, is 6-1 with a 1.20 ERA in his nine appearances (all starts) this season. On Saturday, the Tigers will likely throw Nathan Culp. The left-hander is also 6-1 this season with a 2.75 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 52.1 innings pitched. Doug Mathis is expected to start the series finale on Sunday. Mathis, a righty, is 3-2 in six starts this season with a 2.75 ERA. In his 46.2 innings of action, Mathis has struck out 47 batters opposite 10 walks.
2004 MEETINGS WITH MISSOURI
Seventeenth-ranked and second seeded Oklahoma suffered a defeat in its first game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Conference Tournament by falling 9-5 to No. 7 seed Missouri on May 26 at Ameriquest Field. OU scored all of its runs during a five-run fifth inning rally which pulled them to within a run of Missouri before the Tigers broke out the bats again for three late scores.
In the regular season series, OU swept the Tigers in the three games played in Norman by one run in the first (3-2) and third game (4-3). In the second game of the set, the Sooners posted eight runs opposite the Tigers’ five. Jeff Scuderi, Eric Thornton and Matt Bose posted solid power numbers with 5, 4 and 3 RBI, respectively.
LAST TIME OUT -- FOUR HOME RUNS POWER OU TO 11-6 VICTORY
Ryan Rohlinger, Kody Kaiser, Jackson Williams and Eric Thornton all hit home runs and the Sooners’ bullpen shut down UT-Arlington in an 11-6 victory on Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
After five innings, the Sooners and Mavericks were tied at six runs apiece, but OU used solo home runs by Rohlinger and Kaiser to produce a three-run sixth inning to take the lead for good. OU added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth frames to put away the Mavericks and improve to 17-3 when playing at L. Dale Mitchell Park in 2005.
OU’s offense rebounded after scoring just seven runs against Texas in three games last weekend, to score 11 runs on 18 hits, including a season-high four homers. Will Savage, John Brownell and Tyler Gooch combined to pitch six shutout innings, out of the OU bullpen, to nail down the win and snap the Sooners’ three-game losing streak.
Williams finished the game with a 4-for-4 performance that included two RBI and Kaiser also collected four hits, in five at-bats, and two RBI to help lead the Sooners.
Tuesday’s offensive outburst against UT-Arlington marked the ninth time this season that OU recorded 15 or more hits in a contest and the 12th time it scored 10 or mores runs.
Starting with the series at No. 17/24 Missouri, the Sooners face a difficult stretch of seven games in nine days (four on the road). OU will play three games against Missouri, have a day off before playing at Wichita State on Tuesday night and then another day off on Wednesday before starting a three-game series with No. 11/9 Nebraska in Norman. The Sooners faced a similiar scenario in the beginning of March when it played eight games in 10 days and recorded a 5-3 mark.
ROHLINGER STAYS HOT
Junior Ryan Rohlinger continues to lead the Sooners offensive charge this season as he is tops on the team in batting average (.370) and hits (51) and is tied for the team lead in RBI (31) with Kevin Smith. Rohlinger hit .282 last year with six homers and 32 RBI. Rohlinger has moved up and down the lineup this year, not to mention being moved from shortstop to third base and is currently been hitting out of the two-hole. The West Bend, Wisc., native has hit safely in six of the last eight games with a .481 batting average in that span. He has also collected four-multi hit games in the last eight contests to go along with a homer, six RBI and a .704 slugging percentage.
LOOKING BACK A YEAR AGO
After 36 games last season, the 2004 Sooners were 23-13 overall (15-8 home / 4-4 away) and 10-3 in Big 12 play. That same OU team was hitting .284 (351 hits) with 24 homers, 184 RBI and 214 runs scored. On the other side of the ball, the Sooners’ pitching staff held a 3.72 ERA.
In 2005, OU is 21-15 after 36 games (17-3 home / 2-9 away) and 5-7 in conference action. This year’s Sooners are hitting .301 (382 hits) with 20 home runs, 227 RBI and 270 runs scored. In addition, OU hurler’s in 2005 have a combined ERA of 4.72.
TOP 25 OPPOSITION
The Sooners face six different schools throughout the season (combined 17 games) ranked in either the Baseball America or Sports Weekly/ESPN top 25 polls this week (two in the top 3). All but five of those contests occur in Big 12 competition as Texas (1/1), Baylor (8/14), Nebraska (11/9) and Missouri (17/24) are all currently ranked in the top 25. The Sooners have already played six ranked opponents in 2005 after defeating then-No. 14 Texas A&M in two games, then-No. 22 TCU and Baylor in one game. The Sooners were swept by Texas, lost two games to Baylor and dropped single games to No. 2/2 Cal State Fullerton and then-No. 12 Arizona State, 7-0 and 7-5 respectively.
The Sooners won their first road game of the season against TCU on March 22 but continue to struggle with a 2-9 mark. The Sooners have lost just three three-game series so far this season, all on the road (Texas, ASU and Baylor). So far this season, OU is 4-12 in games played away from the friendly confines of L. Dale Mitchell Park. Five of those contests have been played at neutral sites with OU participating in two tournaments this season (Coca-Cola Classic and the KIA Bash). OU is 2-9 in “true” road games, dropping three contests at Texas, three at ASU, two at Baylor and one at then-No. 2 Cal State Fullerton, and is batting just .207 with 24 RBI in those contests.
Members of the Caufield family have enjoyed success at the University of Oklahoma as LaNeisha Caufield (1999-2002) was a member of the women’s basketball 2002 Final Four team. Now, Chuckie Caufield (LaNeisha’s brother), is quickly becoming a key member of the 2005 OU baseball team. Caufield has started 33 of the 35 games he has played in so far this season and done so by reaching base and making some solid defensive plays. He is batting .310 with 10 RBI and 33 runs scored, a mark that is tied for the team lead. He has also collected seven doubles and a triple so far this season. Caufield has a .400 on-base percentage, due in large part to the 12 times he has been hit by a pitch (leads team). That marks ties the most any Sooner was beamed last season (Russell Raley and Andrew McGuire).
KAISER ON A ROLL
Despite snapping a nine-game hitting streak on Feb. 28 against Western Illinois to start off the season, freshman Kody Kaiser continues to hit the ball well in his first season at OU. The freshman has started all 36 of the Sooners’ games this season. Kaiser has hit safely in all but nine of those games in 2005. He is second on the team with 49 hits and a batting average of .336. The Edmond, Okla., has come within one hit of completing the cycle on two occasions this season and has collected seven multiple-hit games. In just his fifth collegiate game (vs. Eastern Illinois), Kaiser led off the game with a triple and added a double and a home run in his next two at-bats before grounding out to second base in his last chance at the cycle. On Feb. 28 against Western Illinois, Kaiser started with a double, triple and a single but could not come up with a homer in his final at bat. He has now served as the team’s leadoff hitter in four games (7-for-18), batted out of the three-hole (26-for-94) in 23 contests, batted fourth in three games (8-for-12), batted fifth in five games (5-for-18) and hit in the sixth spot (3-for-4) in his remaining game.