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No. 16 OU Ready for Big 12 Road Test
April 06, 2006

NORMAN, Okla. -- After suffering a season-high, three-game losing streak, the No. 16 Sooners (22-9, 3-3 Big 12) have rebounded to win their last two contests. OU opens the Big 12 road portion of the schedule this weekend at Texas A&M (18-14, 2-7 Big 12) for a three-game series. First pitch at Olsen Field on Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be followed by Saturday’s 7 p.m. game and a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday.

OU leads the all-time series 26-24. The Sooners took two out of three games last year in Norman and have won four of the last five meetings. 

MEDIA EXPOSURE
The three-game series will be broadcast live on KOKC 1520 AM with Chuck Kelly calling the play-by-play. Pregame coverage for all Sooner baseball games, begins 15 minutes prior to first pitch. In addition, live stats for all games this season can be viewed on Soonersports.com. A live webcast can be viewed this weekend on aggieathletics.com for all three games. The service is available on the site's premium page - Aggie Ultimate Access.

Game Notes (PDF) | Big 12 Notes | Schedule | Live Stats 

UPDATING THE SOONERS
It took the full nine innings, but the Sooner baseball team rallied from behind for the seventh time this season to record a 4-3 victory over UT-Arlington on Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. 

OU trailed 3-0 after the Mavericks at-bat in the seventh inning and the Sooners brought the game within striking distance after a two-run seventh inning.  Kevin Smith brought in those two runs on a triple to dead center. 

The odds were not in the Sooners’ favor as they went up to the plate in the ninth inning.  OU was 0-6 in games when trailing after eight innings this season.

The middle of the Sooners’ lineup completed the comeback victory, as Kody Kaiser drilled a triple to center field to lead off the ninth inning.  The next batter, Ryan Rohlinger, drove in Kaiser on a single down the left field line and he later scored the decisive run.  Jackson Williams, who entered the game to catch in the final frame, plated the game-winning run on a chopper up the middle with one out in the ninth inning.

SCOUTING TEXAS A&M
Texas A&M enters this weekend on a four-game losing streak and have played in five one-run games in its last six outings.   The Aggies two wins in that span came against Texas Tech.  Since then, Texas A&M has been swept at Oklahoma State last weekend and dropped an 11-6 contest to Rice at home on Tuesday.

The Aggies began the season on a ten-game winning streak and won 13 of their first 15 games, but since then they have recorded a 5-12 mark.

-Offensively, junior third baseman Austin Boggs leads the club with a .331 average and 12 doubles.  His 15 RBI is tied for second on the club with Jose Salazar and only ranks behind former Sooner Josh Stinson’s 16 RBI.

-Junior left-hander Jason Meyer is expected to open the series for Texas A&M on the mound.  Meyer has only made two starts this season, both in his last two appearances, which were pitched three days apart from each other.  Meyer is 0-0 with a 3.23 ERA.  He has struck out 27 batters and walked six in 30 2/3 innings.

-A&M is coached by Rob Childress, who is in his first season at the Aggies’ helm and first year as a Division I head coach.   In 2005, Texas A&M finished 30-25-1 with a 9-18 record in Big 12 play, good for ninth place.  Returning from last year’s team are 14 letterwinners and eight position starters.

-OU leads the all-time series 26-24.  The Sooners took two out of three games last year in Norman and have won four of the last five meetings.

PLAYER TO WATCH:  KODY KAISER

Kody Kaiser
The Sooner outfielder has hit safely in five of the last six games and over that span, Kaiser is hitting .500.  Additionally, the sophomore is slugging at a .700 clip with 10 hits (two 3B), six runs and three RBI.

WHO’S NEXT
OU will return home for a five-game home stand which begins next week.  That stretch begins on Tuesday, April 11 against TCU at 7 p.m.  OU will then host Missouri for a three-game series over the weekend, which includes a regional television broadcast by Fox Sports Net on Saturday, April 15.  The home stand concludes with No. 3 Rice on Tuesday, April 18.  All five games can be heard live on KOKC 1520 AM.

TOP 25
After being ranked in each of the four major polls on March 13, 2006 for the first time since April 19, 2004, the Oklahoma baseball team remained in the all four rankings for the fourth consecutive week, losing ground in each poll.  For the sixth consecutive week, OU was ranked in the top 30 by both Collegiate Baseball magazine and the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s (NCBWA) polls.  OU is No. 28 in Collegiate Baseball and No. 17 in the NCBWA poll.  In the USA Today/ESPN poll, OU is ranked No. 16 and Baseball America has the Sooners at No. 28.  Refer to page six for a complete week-by-week breakdown of the rankings.

OKLAHOMA/BIG 12 RPI’s
Although not official, Boydsworld.com provides a weekly pseudo RPI system.  OU is ranked No. 22 in this week’s ranking released on Thursday, April 6.  The Big 12 is rated the No. 3 power conference in the nation and is right behind the SEC and ACC.  Nebraska comes in at No. 6 and Texas is the only other Big 12 team ahead of OU at No. 11.

TWO OUT OF THREE AIN'T BAD
In each of the first eight weekends of the 2006 season, OU has come out with at least two wins, including three sweeps (Western Illinois, UC Riverside and Centenary).  Last weekend against Texas marked the first below .500 record for OU in a weekend series.  OU lost the first two games but rallied to defeat Texas 12-7 in the series finale.  In addition, the series loss to Texas was the first Big 12 series defeat under head coach Sunny Golloway.  OU, led by Golloway in 2005, defeated Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in three-game series and also topped Baylor this season in the Big 12 opener.
 
TWO-OUT RBI
OU has connected for 91 RBI with two outs on the board in 2006.  That accounts for 43 percent of the team’s total of 213 RBI.  The team’s top three RBI individuals, Kevin Smith, Aaron Reza and Ryan Rohlinger, each have double-digit RBI with two outs.  Smith has 15, while Rohlinger has 13 and Reza 10.

LIMITING WALKS
The OU pitching staff is averaging just under three walks per game (3.03-fourth best average in the Big 12) and has walked two or fewer batters on 13 occasions this year, including four games without registering a single walk (Texas State, WIU-GM2, Memphis and Indiana State.)   In one stretch, the staff went 22 2/3 innings without walking a batter, starting with the seventh inning of the Long Beach State game, continuing through the Memphis and Indiana State games, and ending in the third inning against Notre Dame.  Steven Guerra has been the most successful starter in the category, lasting five outings without a walk.

ONE-RUN GAMES
The Sooners have played in 11 one-run games this season and have suffered losses in three of those contests.   Two of those defeats have come in the last 10 games (Arizona State-GM1 and Baylor-GM1).  The only other one-run defeat came in the Service Academies Classic against Memphis.  The Sooners average 5.2 runs/game in one-run contests, 2.2 runs below their season average.  In 2005, OU played in 12 one-run games and recorded a 9-3 mark.

WHEN A STARTER EXITS
OU is 17-2 this season when the starting pitcher exits the game with the lead.  The two defeats both occurred with Daniel McCutchen on the mound (March 17 vs. ASU and March 24 vs. Baylor).  In comparison, when OU is trailing and the starter leaves the game, it is 4-4 with wins over Texas State, Notre Dame, Baylor (March 26) and UT-Arlington (April 4) and losses to Lamar (Feb. 5), Rice,  Wichita State and Dallas Baptist.  There has only been one game this season that a starter left  and the score was tied.  On April 1 versus Texas, Steven Guerra left after six innings with the score tied at four and suffered his first loss of 2006. 

Additionally, OU is 1-2 this year when a starter throws a complete game.  McCutchen threw in all three of those games and lost to Memphis and Texas and defeated UC Riverside.

SHUTTING OUT THE OPPOSITION
OU is tied with Missouri, Kansas State and Texas A&M in the Big 12 with four shutouts this season.  The Sooners have blanked Western Illinois (14-0), UC Riverside (1-0), Centenary (12-0) and UT-Arlington (8-0) in 2006.  The Sooners only recorded two shutouts all of last season and the last time an OU squad posted four shutouts in a season was during the 1994 campaign, which saw OU win its second National Championship.  The last time OU posted five shutouts was in 1992 and the record for most shutouts in a season is 18 (1976 and 1973).

OU AGAINST RANKED COMPETITION
The Sooners have faced seven teams this season ranked in one of the four major polls in collegiate baseball (USA Today/Sports Weekly, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA).  OU is 6-6 in those contests with wins over Texas (11, 10, 10, 13), Baylor-twice (21, 22, 23, 24) Arizona State (13, 16, 11, 13) Long Beach State (20, 19, 15, 11) and Notre Dame (NR, NR, 22, 27).  OU has lost Texas-twice, Arizona State, Rice (4, 5,4, 2) and Wichita State (NR, NR, 28, 24).  The Sooners will also face four more teams ranked in this week’s polls (Rice, Texas Tech, Wichita State and Nebraska) later on this season, combining for eight of their final 25 regular season games.  (All rankings listed were taken at the time of competition).
 
SCORING EARLY AND OFTEN
OU is ranked second in the Big 12 (overall games) in runs scored with 231 and it has recorded 67 percent of those tallies in the second through six innings this season.  The Sooners have crossed the plate 155 times in those five innings, including 36 times in the sixth frame alone.  Additionally, OU has scored first in all but 12 of its games this season (Texas State, Rice, Indiana State, Centenary-GM3, Arizona State-GM1, Baylor-GM1 and GM3, Dallas Baptist, the entire Texas series and UT-Arlington) and is 16-3 when it posts the game’s first run, suffering losses to Wichita State, Lamar on Feb. 5 and Memphis.  Listed on page 13 is a complete breakdown of OU’s runs scored inning-by-inning.

BEST IN THE BIG 12
The Sooners knew heading into 2006 that the defense would be solid with all but one position starter returning from 2005.  So far after 31 games, OU owns the best fielding percentage in the Big 12 (.981), has committed the fewest errors (23) and has turned the second-most double plays (28-tied with Baylor) in the conference.  The Sooners have finished 13 games this season without an error and is 11-2 in those contests (lost to Rice and Memphis).

TRUE ROAD GAMES
Even though OU is 9-4 away from L. Dale Mitchell Park, it is only 4-2 in “true” road games this season.  In the UTPA Classic, the Sooners defeated the host Broncs 16-3 and in the Coca Cola Classic, they dropped an 8-2 decision to then-No. 5 Rice.  OU topped UT-Arlington and TCU in mid-week games and most recently split two games at ASU.  OU is 5-2 in the remaining games, all neutral sites, falling to Memphis and Lamar (Feb. 5).

EXTRA BASE HITS
OU has recorded two or more extra base hits in all but seven games this season (LBSU, Memphis, Indiana State, UC Riverside-GM1, Baylor-GM1 and GM1 and GM2 vs. Texas).  The Sooners’ season high for extra base hits in a game is seven.  That feat was accomplished against Arizona State in game two of the series.  In that contest, OU connected for five doubles and two home runs.

OFFENSIVE PRODUCTION
Although early in the season, the 22-9 Sooners have proven that they are an offensive team after recording 10 or more hits in 19 of its 31 games.  Additionally, the Sooner offense has scored double-digit runs on 10 occasions this season (UTPA, WIU-twice, Lamar-Feb. 18, TCU, Centenary-twice, ASU-March 18, Baylor-March 26 and Texas- April 2).  OU is averaging 7.5 runs a game and nine hits  per game in 2006.   Additionally, seven different Sooners are hitting .300 or better (min. 55 at-bats) and 10 sluggers have 12 or more RBI, including four with 20 or more (Caufield-20, Reza-21, Rohlinger-27 and Smith-32).

GOING THE DISTANCE
Seniors Daniel McCutchen and Steven Guerra have started nine games apiece so far in 2006 and have made each start last five or more innings in those starts.  Additionally, Guerra and McCutchen have each gone six or more innings seven times.  OU’s third starter, P.J. Sandoval, has lasted five-plus in all but two starts (Feb. 5 vs. Lamar and March 26 vs. Baylor).  Sandoval has two starts over six innings.  Ryan Mottern is the only other OU pitcher with more than one start.  He has pitched in three mid-week games and lasted three innings in his first start and five frames in each of the following starts (TCU and UTA).

BULLPEN VS. STARTERS
Daniel McCutchen, Steven Guerra, P.J. Sandoval, Ryan Mottern, Will Savage and John Brownell have all made at least one start this season and are a combined 18-8 this season with an ERA of 3.98.  The Sooners’ bullpen consisting of 12 pitchers is 4-1 with six saves and a 6.03 ERA.  Additionally, the Sooners’ starters account for 63 percent of the team’s strikeouts (138/220) and 52 percent of the team’s walks (49/94).   Finally, teams are hitting .259 against the starters and .291 against the bullpen.

SMALL BALL
The 2006 Sooners are proving to be a team that has options on offense.  As the team ranks second in the Big 12 in RBI (213) and ranks second in runs scored (231) and hits (336) and fifth in batting average (.318) 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 the power numbers listed above, the Sooners are second in the Big 12 in sacrifices (38-for-41) and they have executed five squeeze bunts out of six, resulting in five runs scored from third base. 

PRESEASON PREDICTIONS
In the Big 12 Coaches’ preseason poll, the Oklahoma Sooners were picked to finish fifth in the league, the highest prediction since being tabbed third in 2003.  In addition, Collegiate Baseball picked OU to finish fifth and Baseball America has the Sooners finishing seventh in the conference. 

In addition to the preseason rankings within the Big 12, Baseball America tabbed Ryan Rohlinger as an All-Big 12 pick and Daniel McCutchen as one of the conference’s top 2006 prospects and Brad Burns was picked for the 2007 draft.

Finally, Collegiate Baseball named McCutchen, Rohlinger, Kody Kaiser and Will Savage as “players to watch” within the Big 12.

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.

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)

Sunday, April 9

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)


# 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, 22-9 (.710)

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

Rank/School (First Place Votes) Points
1. Texas (8) 79
2. Nebraska (1) 70
3. Missouri (1) 66
4. Baylor 54
5. Oklahoma 44
6. Oklahoma State 41
7. Texas A&M 36
8. Kansas 24
8. Texas Tech 24
10. Kansas State 11
* Points based on nine for first place, eight for second, etc. 

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

RECRUITING CLASS
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

 

 

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